Rural round-up

11/10/2021

Pomahaka river project hits half-way mark – Neal Wallace,

A three-year project to plant 230,000 native trees and shrubs and build 100km of riparian fencing on Otago’s Pomahaka River, is officially halfway completed.

The milestone for the Pomahaka Watercare Corridor Planting Project was marked with a function at the Leithen Picnic Area this week.

The $3.7 million project between the Primary Growth Fund, One Billion Trees Fund, 105 local farmers and the Pomahaka Water Care Group is designed to protect the Pomahaka River and its tributaries and offer employment opportunities post-covid-19. . . 

Farmers urged to have a Covid plan – Gerald Piddock:

Dairy farmers have been told to make an on-farm plan in case themselves or one of their staff tests positive for covid-19.

That plan had to be easily accessible and documented and communicated to all staff members, DairyNZ covid project manager Hamish Hodgson said in a webinar.

This plan was crucial for the farmer to be ready for covid.

He said he knew of one farmer organising campervans to be brought on-farm if they needed to be able to isolate people. . .

New Johne’s test based on Covid technology :

The same technology used to detect Covid-19 in wastewater is now being used to help dairy farmers manage Johne’s disease in their herd.

Johne’s disease is a contagious infection estimated to cost New Zealand more than $40 million in lost production each year.

It is caused by a bacterium which infects the gut of dairy cows and other ruminant animals. Common side effects include lower milk production, difficulty reproducing and rapid weight loss.

Herd improvement co-operative LIC has developed a new test which detects whether the bacteria responsible for Johne’s disease is present in a farm’s effluent wastewater. . .

Hemp industry builds infrastructure to secure its future – Country Life:

New Zealand’s largest hemp grower says farmers around the country want to start growing hemp but, before more come on board, markets need to be developed and infrastructure secured.

Hemp New Zealand’s Dave Jordan says it’s a ‘chicken and egg’ situation.

“There are a lot of ideas around and it’s all very well to have the ideas but you have got to actually have action on the ground and show people the benefit of it (hemp) and get customers to buy it.”

The company is working with 100 growers who grow 1000 hectares of hemp.

NZ shearer with 100 wins to pick up clippers again this year – Sally Murphy:

A farmer who was first in the world to win 100 blade-shearing finals isn’t ready to stop competing just yet.

Tony Dobbs from Fairlie won his 100th title at the Waimate Shears Spring Championships last year and considered retiring after being diagnosed with cancer.

This year’s Waimate Shears starts today with some of the country’s top shearers and wool handlers going head to head.

Dobbs was set down to judge the competition so thought he might as well compete too. . . 

On-farm quarantine the next step for ag workers – James Jackson:

After years of drought, farmers are finally facing an opportunity to reap the rewards of their hard work as bumper crops loom on the horizon. But labour shortages remain a significant and stubborn hurdle to reaching record-breaking harvests, and primary producers cannot afford to wait for the state to reopen to muster enough workers in time for their summer harvests.

NSW Farmers has joined forces with the National Farmers Federation to call for an immediate solution to get more workers to farms as quickly as possible. We propose a limited pilot of on-farm quarantine for 200 agricultural workers from low-risk countries, commencing when 70 per cent of adults in NSW are fully vaccinated.

A transition to on-farm quarantine arrangements in NSW as vaccination rates rise would alleviate a number of challenges the agriculture sector has faced in the hotel-quarantine model. The availability of hotel quarantine places in NSW is limited and further constrained by Sydney’s disproportionately high intake of returning residents, increasing the likelihood agricultural workers will miss out on a place. . . 


Rural round-up

30/09/2021

‘Frustrating, disappointing’ – Call for better vaccine rollout in rural areas – Sally Murphy:

There are concerns the vaccine rollout is lagging in rural areas with some farmers having to do three-hour round trips to get the jab.

The Rural General Practice Network said it had been asking for data on rural vaccinations from the Ministry for Health for some time without a response.

Chief executive Dr Grant Davidson said the network believed the rates for rural communities, and rural Māori in particular, lagged the vaccination rates for the general population being reported by the government.

“We do know that there are small niche areas such as Rakiura/Stewart Island where entire communities have been vaccinated, but we believe this is hiding what is a major issue for a vulnerable population in New Zealand – the rural backbone of the country needing support. . . 

Growers nervous of labour shortage despite imminent arrival of RSE workers – Tom Kitchin:

The arrival of seasonal workers from next week gives growers some certainty, but they fear the upcoming season will still be a big challenge.

The arrival of seasonal workers from next week gives growers some certainty, but they fear the upcoming season will still be a big challenge

Seasonal workers arriving from the Pacific Islands next week will be able to skip MIQ and go to work during their isolation period.

Vaccinated workers from Vanuatu can come in from next Monday, while those from Tonga and Samoa will need to wait until Tuesday, 12 October.

The workers will complete a self-isolation period of seven days and undertake day zero and day five tests, all while working at their work sites. . . 

Groundswell protests no Bloody Friday – luckily – Jamie Mackay:

Imagine running 1500 animals through the main street of a city, then mobbing them up and cutting their throats in protest.

The year was 1978. I remember it well, as it was a watershed year in my life. I’d taken a gap year after secondary school to try my hand at senior rugby with the big boys.

Many parts of Southland had suffered a crippling drought in 1978. Combine that with a season of industrial mayhem at the four local “freezing” works, and you had a powder keg waiting to explode. The meat companies, farmers, unions and workers were literally at each other’s throats.

Lambs weren’t worth much and the old ewes, who had selflessly given the best five or six years of their lives to bear the aforementioned lambs, were worthless. They had reached their use-by-date. As the dry summer rolled into autumn and beyond, the old ewes were eating scarce winter feed needed for their younger and more productive counterparts in the flock. . . 

Open trade climate change can work together – Macaulay Jones:

Supporting local businesses benefits the economy, but supporting local products is not always beneficial for the climate.

As the world and New Zealand continues to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and policies enacted to curb its spread, many consumers are making a conscious effort to support local businesses.

Local businesses directly and indirectly support local communities and are often owned and operated by active members of the community. However, while supporting local businesses is a great way of helping your neighbours financially recover from the pandemic, extending this principle to choosing to buy local products as a means of taking climate action may not offer the benefits for the atmosphere you’d expect. . . 

OSPRI reduces TB slaughter levy rates for dairy and beef farmers :

OSPRI who manages the TBfree programme is to reduce the TB slaughter levy rates for cattle farmers from 1 October.

The Differential Slaughter Levy (DSL) is reviewed each year to ensure that industry funding aligns with that agreed under the 2016 TB Plan Funders’ Agreement, this is subject to a 15-year period.

The slaughter levies collected support funding of the TBfree programme on behalf of the beef and dairy industries. The revised levies are collected by meat processors.

The new differential slaughter levy rates are: . . 

This silage contractor chartered a jet for $44,000 to get his workers home from New Zealand – Angus Verley:

What do you do when your key staff are stranded overseas and peak season is fast approaching?

COVID-19 has shut down international travel. For Sam Monk, one of the largest silage contractors in the country, that meant four of his machinery operators were stuck in New Zealand.

With just a fortnight before those workers were required in Australia for corn planting, Mr Monk went to the extraordinary length of chartering a plane to pick up his workers.

Mr Monk said the charter plane landed in Sydney on Friday. His employees are completing two weeks of quarantine before getting to work. . .


Rural round-up

24/09/2021

The ETS is both a gold mine and a minefield – Keith Woodford:

The Government never foresaw the land-use forces they were unleashing with the ETS

In recent weeks I have written multiple articles on the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) with a particular focus on forestry. This week I also had an extended interview with Kathryn Ryan on RNZ ‘Nine to Noon’.  However, there is still lots more that needs to be said.

The bottom line is that carbon forestry is now far more profitable than sheep and beef farming on nearly all classes of land. We are indeed on the cusp of the greatest rural land-use changes that New Zealand has seen in the last 100 years.

For many sheep and beef farmers, carbon farming can now be a gold mine. The key requirement is pastoral land that will grow an exotic forest that will not be destroyed by storm, fire or disease.  . . 

A new visa scheme offering 3 years in Australia to agricultural workers threatens to crush NZ’s primary sector – Aaron Martin:

Australians must be laughing at our immigration woes.

The Australian government has announced a new visa aimed at enticing agricultural workers by offering them three years of residency to live in rural areas. New Zealand, however, has no official pathway or plan for migrant worker residency.

Why is the Ardern government consistently the loser?

We have very proud history of sporting success against Australia. We love nothing better than to beat them at anything. We’ve had success on multiple fronts but, sadly, our government seems to come up the loser against theirs. . . 

The human cost of no response :

The Prime Minister’s ‘Be Kind’ message is obviously struggling to get past Wellington’s 50k boundary and out to Rural New Zealand.

You can tell because, if there was any response from her or her ministers to the concerns Rural NZ has, I’d know. To date, the tally is 0.

As both a farmer and National’s Agriculture spokesperson I find it deplorable.

The heavy-handed approach the Government has adopted in trying to reach unrealistic, impractical targets for water, climate change, zero carbon, emissions and land use, to name but a few, has placed enormous pressure on the farming sector. . .  

Fonterra completes reset, announces annual results and long-term growth plan out to 2030:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced a strong set of results for the 2021 financial year, reflected in a final Farmgate Milk Price of $7.54, normalised earnings per share of 34 cents and a final dividend of 15 cents, taking the total dividend for the year to 20 cents per share. The results come as Fonterra moves through its business reset and into a new phase of growing the value of its business.

CEO Miles Hurrell says the last three years have been about resetting the business. “We’ve stuck to our strategy of maximising the value of our New Zealand milk, moved to a customer-led operating model and strengthened our balance sheet.

“The results and total pay-out we’ve announced today show what we can achieve when we focus on quality execution and an aligned Co-op.

“I want to thank our farmer owners and employees for their hard work and commitment over the last few years that has got us to this position. Together, we’ve shored up foundations and done this despite the challenges of operating in a COVID-19 world.

“Although the higher milk price and tightening margins put pressure on earnings in the final quarter, this is a strong overall business performance, allowing us to deliver $11.6 billion to the New Zealand economy through the total pay-out to farmers. . . 

Hawke’s Bay A&P show cancelled over Delta risk fears – Maja Burry:

The Hawke’s Bay A&P Show, due to be held late next month, has been cancelled due to the uncertainty and risks associated with the Covid-19 Delta outbreak.

Organisers said the executive committee of the Hawke’s Bay A&P Society met last night to review the risks and after significant consideration, made the hard decision to cancel.

The show was scheduled to run from October 20th-22nd. It’s one of the largest in the country and usually attracts 30,000 people to the Tomoana Showgrounds.

Society president Simon Collin said whilst the country was in differing levels of restrictions, and with Covid-19 cases still appearing the country, the event couldn’t go ahead. . . 

Scientists aiming to enhance the `human-ness’ of infant formula

AgResearch scientists think they have identified a unique new way to make infant formula more like breast milk and better for babies, using ingredients that could enhance brain development and overall health.

Research into this next generation infant formula could create new opportunities for New Zealand’s primary industries in a global market worth tens of billions of dollars annually.

With funding over three years recently announced from the government’s 2021 Endeavour Fund, AgResearch scientists Simon Loveday and Caroline Thum, along with collaborators from Massey and Monash Universities, are aiming to enhance the “human-ness” of infant formula produced from New Zealand ingredients.

“We’ve recently discovered a new natural source of nutritional oil that is surprisingly similar to the fat in breast milk,” Dr Thum says. . . 

Demand for NZ apples in India continues to grow – Sally Murphy:

An apple exporter says efforts to grow demand in India are proving fruitful with orders skyrocketing.

Although they only make up a small proportion of total numbers, exports of pip fruit to India have been growing.

Ministry for Primary Industries figures show last year 5.5 percent of apple and pear exports went there, but to July this year exports to India made up 8.2 per cent.

Golden Bay Fruit in Motueka has been exporting apples there for over 20 years. . . 

 


Rural round-up

03/09/2021

Pine plantations extend lifetime of methane in North Island atmosphere :

North Island pine forests are prolonging the life of methane in the local atmosphere by as much as three years, climate researcher Jim Salinger says.

Dr Salinger said new computer modelling showed New Zealand had underestimated the impact of methane in its greenhouse gas emissions and would need to set tougher targets for methane reduction.

The modelling showed compounds called monoterpenes emitted by pine plantations in the North Island were extending the life of methane in the New Zealand atmosphere from 12.5 years to 15 years.

Dr Salinger presented the research to Parliament’s Environment Select Committee today. . . 

The Covid glitch in our supply chains – Sharon Brettkelly:

Our farm-to-fork process is usually highly efficient. But the Delta variant has blown a hole in the security of our supply chains, sparking questions about what changes are needed.

Rod Slater was only eight years old when he became part of the meat supply chain in New Zealand.

From his father’s butcher shop in Mt Albert, Auckland, he would head out on his bike with the meat parcels in the front basket to deliver to customers.

The 75-year-old recently retired chief executive of Beef + Lamb New Zealand remembers his first delivery to a rest home when he had to crash his bike to stop it, and the meat came tumbling out. . . 

Common sense prevails over grazing rules :

Just days into her new role as National’s Agriculture spokesperson, Barbara Kuriger is pleased to see common-sense is prevailing in Southland.

The Government’s proposed intensive winter grazing (IWG) rules for Southland, were due to come into effect in May, but were deferred in March for one year, after the farming sector deemed them ‘unworkable’.

Last Thursday, the Government announced it’s now going to adopt almost all the changes put forward by the Southland Winter Grazing Advisory Group — which is made up of ag sector representatives.

A consultation document was also released and is now open for feedback on the Ministry for the Environment website. Submissions close on October 7. . .

What New Zealand farmers can teach the world – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Global food security is on a razor’s edge, but Kiwi farmers can show other countries what can be achieved whilst continuing to make more improvements down on the farm, writes Jacqueline Rowarth.

Recent food price increases in New Zealand are small in comparison with the rest of the world. The 2.8 per cent increase to the year ended July 2021 in New Zealand is nothing in comparison with the 31.0 per cent reported for the global Food Price Index by the FAO over the same time frame.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, food insecurity worldwide was on the rise.

The Economist’s Intelligence Unit (EIU) Index released at the beginning of the year stated that the pandemic threatens to erase “progress made in the fight to eliminate global hunger and malnutrition”. . . 

Hawkes Bay farmers watching gathering signs of a third big dry – Sally Murphy:

Conditions in Hawke’s Bay are being described as extremely dry as farmers prepare for another warm, dry spring.

For the past two years the region has been in drought over summer and it is looking like farmers could face a third.

Hawke’s Bay Federated Farmers president Jim Galloway said they’ve only had about 280mm of rain so far this year.

“Underfoot it’s very dry, a lot drier than normal and certainly for this time of year. Some areas had a little bit of rain yesterday but it’s only enough to wet the top. . . 

Farms left with 70,000 surplus pigs amid labour crisis:

Labour shortages at abattoirs have resulted in a surplus of 70,000 pigs on farms across the country, the National Pig Association has warned.

The lack of available workers at processing plants is causing a significant surplus of pigs stuck on farms, the trade body said.

Most plant workers – the majority being eastern European – have gone back to their home countries following Covid-19 travel restrictions and Brexit uncertainty.

Meanwhile, pig producers are continuing to struggle with record costs and negative margins that have persisted since the start of the year. . . 


Rural round-up

27/08/2021

Why farmers will be hoping for a better FTA agreement with the Brits than the Aussies secured – Point of Order:

Reports  this  week  indicate that  New Zealand is  getting  closer  to a  free  trade  deal  with  the  UK.  Trade Minister  Damien O’Connor says  NZ’s negotiators  have been working around the clock to reach the shared objective of an FTA agreement in principle by the end of August.

The problem, as  Point of Order understands it,  is that  NZ has  been  offered  the  same arrangements as  Australia  on  agricultural products,  with  a  phase-out  of  tariffs  over  11  years.

As  NZ trade  expert  Stephen Jacobi argues:

“It would be absolutely ridiculous if we were to enter into an FTA with the UK that did not put forward the prospect of free trade, zero tariffs in lamb and beef and dairy within a reasonable timeframe.” . . 

Farmers consider what would happen should they get Covid-19 – Sally Murphy:

Federated Farmers is working with the government around what would need to happen if a farmer gets Covid-19.

Currently all positive cases are transferred to a quarantine facility – but taking a farmer off their property would create a lot of issues especially in a busy calving and lambing season.

Federated Farmers general manager of policy Gavin Forrest said some farmers have raised concerns about catching the virus especially in rural areas where health care is limited.

He said they are working with the Ministry of Health around what would happen if a farmer tests positive. . .  

Feds – pragmatism prevails on winter grazing :

Farmers will breathe a considerable sigh of relief over news the government has accepted most of the Southland Advisory Group’s winter grazing recommendations, and will now consult on proposed revised rules.

“Everyone wants strong protection for our waterways but from the day they came out Feds had said a number of aspects of the Essential Freshwaters winter grazing rules were simply unworkable,” Federated Farmers environment spokesperson Chris Allen said.

The Southland Advisory Group is testament to how inclusive processes involving local communities and informed stakeholders are able to produce good results.
“It’s good to see the government taking a pragmatic view – a stance we’re also looking for across more of the multitude of issues they are imposing on farmers in the next three years.

“We’ll take this as a win for common sense, and for consistent advocacy for pragmatism by Federated Farmers and others,” Chris said. . . 

Poultry industry having to adapt in face of staff shortages

The poultry industry is feeling the impact of staff shortages during Covid-19 alert level 4, with some processors having to adapt their operations to try and keep supermarkets stocked.

The industry has been grappling with labour challenges since the border closed last year – with the usual supply of migrant workers and backpackers cut off.

Poultry Industry Association executive director Michael Brooks said the problem had been compounded further during lockdown, as some workers had to stay home to look after their children and others were isolating while they waited for Covid-19 tests result.

There was plenty of chicken, but without enough staff some products which required more processing were not being made, Brooks said. . . 

Let’s  not kill five more people  on farm this spring :

Last year’s spring saw a spike in fatalities on farm and Federated Farmers is asking its members not to let history repeat this year.

WorkSafe statistics show 20 on farm workplace fatalities in 2020, with a spike of five deaths in August and September during the busy lambing and calving period.

So far this year five people have died in on-farm workplace accidents. One of these deaths was in August.

Federated Farmers vice president and health and safety spokesperson Karen Williams says enough is enough, farmers need to priortise their own, their children’s and their staff’s safety on farm. . . 

Golden kiwifruit orchard with a character house for sale:

Golden kiwifruit orchard with a character house, plus three residential rentals placed on the market for sale

A well-managed kiwifruit orchard producing the fruit’s high-value golden varietal – complete with a character home, three residential rental dwellings delivering multiple revenue streams – has been placed on the market for sale.

The 6.2466-hectare property close to Kerikeri in the ‘winterless North’ is known as Puriri Park, and comprises 1.51 canopy hectares of G3 (gold) kiwifruit vines planted in fertile volcanic soil with a good water supply. The orchard has approximately 869 plants.

Production data for the Northland property at 1349B State Highway 10 for the past four seasons show output has grown from 18,596 trays in the 2017/2018 season -to 26,500 trays in the 2020/2021 cropping year. Early bud counts indicate 24-27,000 trays for the next season delivering a great return to a new owner. . . 

 


Rural round-up

12/08/2021

Farmers struggle after floods – Nigel Malthus:

A Wesport mother and daughter team, who only recently bought a small dairy farm bordering the Buller River, are just one of many still struggling to get back on their feet after the huge flood of mid-July.

Lisa Milligan and her mother Karen took on the 70-hectare property about 5km upstream from the town on June 1. One July 17, almost the entire farm was flooded, with water covering the pastures, running through the milking shed and other buildings and lapping around the house.

Milligan says they knew when they bought the farm that a couple of low areas got water through them when the river flooded, “but not 99% of the farm. It was massive.”

She told Rural News the flood was at levels no one in the district had ever seen. . .

No resolution to labour nightmare – Peter Burke:

Meat Industry Association (MIA) boss Sirma Karapeeva says she struggles to see how much more automation can be introduced into the meat industry to resolve the present labour shortages.

Karapeeva says many people seem to think that automation is the silver bullet that can compensate for labour shortages in the industry caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I struggle to see how that is possible. In the red meat sector, we have already done all that we can do in terms of the lower hanging fruit in automation,” she told Rural News.

“The big pieces of automation are already in place and the next areas of automation that could be developed are really challenging because you are dealing with the natural product – meat.” . .

New RSE season will be tough amid pandemic – researcher – Christine Rovoi:

Many Recognised Seasonal Employers expect they will struggle to survive the 2021-2022 season unless they can refresh and increase their RSE workforce through new recruitment.

More than 300 stakeholders in New Zealand’s RSE scheme gathered in Nelson last month for the 14th annual industry-led conference ‘RSE: The Post-Covid Future’.

A New Zealand-based researcher said compared with the last RSE conference in Port Vila, Vanuatu in 2019, which focused on sustainable growth of the RSE scheme to support expansion of New Zealand’s horticulture industry (including wine), this year’s meeting was a “sobering event”.

Australia National University research fellow Charlotte Bedford said the conference had possibly the largest turnout of RSE employers, contractors, industry representatives and other stakeholders for several years. . .

West Coast farmers say plan to sacrifice their land bad idea – Lois Williams:

A landowner whose family farmed near Franz Josef for decades says it is not the best idea to let the river have its way on the south bank, as the government and councils are now proposing.

The West Coast Regional Council originally pitched a plan for a $24 million upgrade of the stopbanks on both sides of the river, but that has since been scaled back to $12m, the bulk of the work on the north bank of the Waiho River to protect Franz Josef village.

On the south bank, the stopbanks would be kept up only as far as Canavans Knob, and eventually, the river would be left to fan out over its natural flood plain, wiping out the airfield, several farms and a number of houses now protected by the ‘Milton and Others’ stopbank.

Derrick Milton, whose family helped to build and pay for the stopbank 36 years ago, says if the river is allowed to have its way it will shift its bed south to Docherty’s Creek and make it very difficult to rebuild the state highway as planned. . . 

Shear inspiration – Nigel Beckford:

Rowland Smith is one of New Zealand’s best known shearers. He’s set world records and won both the NZ Shears and Golden Shears numerous times. Farmstrong asked him how he looks after himself in such a physically demanding occupation. 

Shearing’s in the blood for Rowland Smith – his father and brothers were shearers, and shearing had taken him all over the world – Latvia, Finland, USA, Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.

“Shearing’s a great job because you’re out there doing it every day, you’re not stuck in an office. I’ve travelled the world for years on the back of a handpiece,” he says.

Shearing is unique in that as well as being a job, it’s also a competitive sport. Iconic events like the NZ Shears in Te Kuiti and the Golden Shears in Masterton attract hundreds of competitors and large crowds each year. . .

Farmers look to local products as fertiliser prices skyrocket – Sally Murphy:

Farmers are turning towards New Zealand-made fertiliser as Ravensdown and Ballance Agri Nutrients report soaring price increases.

Ballance general manager of sales Jason Minkhorst said the price of DAP fertiliser had doubled in the last year and while the company absorbed some of the cost, the price farmers paid had gone up by about 55 percent.

“Several things are pushing up the prices, to describe it as Covid is to simple, there’s increased demand for food and particularly for meat and dairy products and a key input to producing food is obviously fertiliser,” Minkhorst said.

“Another driver is that Chinese factories and most fertiliser comes from China, have been told to focus on the domestic market to assure food security for China. And then the last driver is this seasonal purchasing supported by subsidies in countries like India and Brazil that’s also putting pressure on prices at the moment.” . .

Seeking skills to reap bumper crops – Andrew Weidemann:

Another big crop is forecast to be harvested across Australia this year, worth an estimated $15 million for the broadacre grains sector.

But coronavirus is again presenting significant hurdles for the industry to overcome.

There is no point repeating what we already know about the personal inconvenience and business frustrations caused by extended lockdowns in different states.

But for many Grain Producers Australia (GPA) members, a significant and immediate challenge stemming from the global COVID-19 pandemic is securing farm labour. . .


Rural round-up

09/08/2021

GDT slump impacts forecasts – Hugh Stringleman:

Eight consecutive falls of the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) price index have all but wiped out the extraordinary 15% rise in the market at the beginning of March.

In the five months since, nine out of 10 fortnightly actions have been downward moves in the market and the GDT price index has dropped 13.2%.

In the first auction for August, whole milk powder (WMP) prices fell by 3.8% and have now fallen 19% since March.

The GDT index lost 1%, as the fall in WMP was balanced somewhat by butter increasing 3.8%, anhydrous milk fat (AMF) by 1.3% and skim milk powder (SMP) by 1.5%. . . 

Soil carbon context important – Jacqueline Rowarth:

It makes up approximately 58% of organic matter, which is the first of seven soil quality indicators in the New Zealand assessment. The prime position of organic matter is because of the attributes associated with it. It holds water and nutrients; soil organisms live in it and decompose it for energy (and nutrients) for their own growth and multiplication; the organisms and the organic matter aid soil structure which in turn assists aeration, infiltration and percolation of water.

A considerable amount of research has been done on building up soil carbon, and on what to avoid in order to prevent a decrease. Some of the results appear to be conflicting. Should we cultivate, strip till or notill to do our best for the environment? Should we flip soils? Can we actually sequester carbon in our soils as other countries are promising to do and so benefit from becoming part of the ETS?

The answer, as so often, is ‘it depends’ – on starting point, soil type, season, crop and all the other usual variables. Context is vital, but sometimes overlooked in enthusiasm for a technology.

The effect on soil carbon of conventional cultivation or conservation (reduced) tillage depends on the measurement depth. . . 

B+LNZ calls for carbon farm limits – Neal Wallace:

Competition from carbon farming is driving up land prices and pushing first-farm buyers out of the market, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

Chief executive Sam McIvor says a commissioned report compiled by BakerAg calculates carbon farmers bought an estimated 31,000ha in the four years since 2017, 34% of the 92,118ha of the sheep and beef farms purchased for conversion to forestry.

“One of the interesting aspects which is parallel with housing, is the fact that carbon farming is driving land prices up, which is putting farms out of reach of young people,” McIvor said.

While timber prices have boosted demand for land, the report attributes a significant reason to climate change policies making revenue from a combination of forestry production and carbon, or carbon-only, more attractive. . . 

Researcher finds chemical-free pest killer to save tomatoes –  Sally Murphy:

A PhD student who has come up with a solution to deal with a tomato plant pest is hoping more large scale greenhouses will try it to prove its success.

Emiliano Veronesi discussed his research at the Horticulture Conference in Hamilton this morning.

He set out trying to find a biological control solution to tomato potato psyllid or TPP which is a bug that can prevent fruit from forming on plants and reduce yields.

And he managed to find a predator for the bug, Engytatus nicotinae, which he has since tested in greenhouses at Lincoln University. . .

Pioneering new food in Southland – Country Life:

Expect to hear a lot more from New Zealand’s latest self-declared food bowl – Southland.

The southernmost province is aiming to put itself on the map nationally and internationally for premium food products.

Southland proudly produces dairy products, lamb, beef, fish, wild meat, oysters, honey, carrots, grain, potatoes, cabbages and swedes. An oat milk factory is in the planning.

The province has the most abundant food bowl in New Zealand, says Mary-Anne Webber, food and beverage manager at Southland’s regional development agency Great South. . . 

Growers may give up double shearing due to shearer drought – Mark Griggs and John Ellicott:

Leading players in the wool and sheep industry have expressed true alarm at the oncoming shearer shortage.

It’s believed no Kiwi shearers will arrive in Australia for the rest of the year due to concerns with local coronavirus outbreaks, a loss of 500 shearers, affecting crutching season.

Growers at a field day near Warren highlighted concerns, some saying it will force woolgrowers to shear only once a year. They’ve called on government and peak wool industry body Australian Wool Innovation to increase training and have trainees working in the wool stands now. . . 


Rural round-up

14/07/2021

Farmer frustration is boiling over :

Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard says he’s not surprised frustration and anger about the deluge of new regulations and costs from central government is spilling over into protest meetings.

On Friday farmers in a number of districts around New Zealand are rounding up dog teams and firing up utes and tractors to head into their nearest town for peaceful protest rallies.

In his speech to the Federated Farmers National Council in Christchurch last week, Andrew referred to a “winter of discontent” in rural communities, with the so-called ute tax a straw that broke the camel’s back for many farming families.

The new “fee” on the farm vehicle work-horse to fund electric vehicle grants, when suitable EVs are not yet a realistic option for farmers, “has just highlighted in farmers’ minds that the Wellington Beltway thinkers just don’t get regional New Zealand“. . .

No workers, no growth! – Peter Burke:

Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson says unless the kiwifruit industry gets more people to work in the sector, it may have to look at slowing down its speed of growth.

Matthieson told Hort News the biggest challenge for the industry is getting a good and consistent supply of people coming through the sector. Those who can help pick the fruit – as well as prepare the orchards for the next season’s crop. He adds the sector also want people to work through the post-harvest facilities to ensure that fruit is being managed well, to get it to market in the best condition.

Mathieson says New Zealanders currently make up about 55% of the kiwifruit sector’s workforce, while backpackers make up about 25% and RSE workers around 15%.

“We have a good mix, but we are certainly looking for more to supplement the migrant workers and the backpackers,” he told Hort News. . . 

Canterbury farmer’s only way out under threat – Sally Murphy:

A farmer in the Canterbury high country still cleaning up after last month’s flood is worried the bridge which connects them to the rest of the world could be washed away.

The heavy rain caused significant damage to Double Hill run road up the Rakaia Gorge leaving farmers isolated.

A four-wheel-drive track has since been cut on the road but a bridge near Redcliffs station is still surrounded by shingle.

Station farmer Ross Bowmar said he was still using a generator for power and had five kilometres of fencing to repair, but the bridge was his main concern. . . .

 

Farmer owned co-operatives need farmer-centered boards:

Former Ravensdown Board member Scott Gower is calling for farmers to step up and stay active in participating on boards of their co-operatives despite more demands being placed on farmers’ time.

Scott is a third-generation hill country sheep and beef farmer from Ohura near Taumarunui and retired from the Ravensdown Board last September after reaching the maximum term.

As an ownership structure, co-operatives contribute 18% of New Zealand’s GDP and one of the most important characteristics according to Scott is how they can take ‘the long view’ rather than seeking short-term commercial gain.

“The agsector is served by more co-operatives than most. Participation by working farmers is vitally important especially in the Board’s composition and determining its priorities. They can nominate candidates, they can run themselves and of course elect the directors that best represent how they think things should be governed,” Scott says. . .

Vegetables lead sharp rise in food prices:

The largest rise for vegetable prices in over four years pushed food prices up 1.4 percent during the June 2021 month, Stats NZ said today.

Vegetable prices rose 15 percent in June, mainly influenced by rising prices for tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, capsicum, and broccoli. After adjusting for seasonal effects, vegetable prices were up 8.5 percent.

“We typically see price rises for many vegetables in winter due to seasonal effects,” consumer prices manager Matthew Stansfield said.

“However, we are seeing larger rises than usual for this time of the year and for a greater number of vegetables.” . .

Agritech industry grew over 2020, report shows – Nona Pelletier:

The agritech industry is growing steadily, despite challenges posed by the pandemic.

The Technology Investment Network (TIN) report for 2020 indicates there was growth across all parts of the sector, including the number of start-ups, export revenue, spending on research and development, and investment across all business types.

The top 22 agritech companies generated $1.4 billion in revenue.

Most of the new early stage companies offered information and communication technology, with a growing number offering biotech products. . . .


Rural round-up

10/07/2021

Labour shifts goalposts on forestry goal, its first policy of 2020 campaign – Thomas Coughlan:

Labour has quietly shifted the goalposts on its first campaign promise of the 2020 campaign, a policy that would make it more difficult to plant swathes of prime food-producing land in trees to harvest carbon credits.

Last July, Labour’s rural communities spokesman Kieran McAnulty and Forestry spokesman Stuart Nash promised that within six months of the next Government being formed, Labour would amend National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry to allow councils to determine for themselves what classes of land can be used for plantation and carbon forests.

Resource consent would have been required for plantation forests to be grown on land known as “elite soils”, land which has a Land Use Capability Class of 1-5. Land of a higher ranking, deemed less essential for food production, could still be used for forestry as now. . .

Rural vaccine availability fears:  ‘I think we are being disadvantaged’

There are fears rural communities in the south may be left behind during the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

Community leaders say there has been scant information about when vulnerable populations in remote areas can expect to be inoculated.

The Southern DHB said more clinics would open by the end of July in remote areas so no one was more than an hour from the nearest clinic.

Fiordland Community Board chair Sarah Greaney said despite group 3 – those over 65 or at greater risk from Covid-19 – being eligible for the vaccine, the nearest clinic at present was 140km away in Gore. . . 

Breakthrough in Hawkes Bay Bay TB response – Sally Murphy:

The animal health agency working to eradicate TB in the Hawkes Bay has gained access to two large forestry blocks in order to cull possums.

OSPRI is working to eradicate the disease – which is spread mainly by possums and can compromise immune systems in stock, causing serious production losses and animal welfare issues.

There are currently 18 herds infected with Bovine TB in the region – but there are also 572 herds under restricted movement controls – which means those farmers can’t move stock off farm without approval – which is a source of great frustration for some in the area.

During the response OSPRI has had trouble getting approval from some land owners to carry out pest control work, which can involve 1080 drops. . . 

David Grant is Federated Farmers Arable Farmer of the Year:

Mid Canterbury Arable Farmer David Grant was awarded the “Federated Farmers Arable Farmer of the Year Award 2021” at the arable industry awards in Christchurch tonight.

David’s contribution to the industry through is work with the Foundation for Arable Research, and in innovation and information sharing, made him an outstanding candidate for this year’s award, Feds Arable chair Colin Hurst said.

The Arable Farmer of the Year Award is designed to recognise a member who excels at arable farming and to acknowledge the standard of excellence they set for the industry. . . 

Silver Fern Farms commits to its course for a sustainable future:

Net Carbon Zero Certified* Beef, Regenerative Agriculture and the elimination of coal by 2030; today, Silver Fern Farms has committed to several bold initiatives to drive its vision of being the world’s most successful and sustainable grass-fed red meat company.

Silver Fern Farms Co-Chair, Rob Hewett, said it was after a significant amount of work and with real satisfaction the company was in the position to make these commitments publicly.

“We have set targets to stretch us, but we are ready for the challenge. If anything, we are committed to investing to accelerate our progress to achieve these significant milestones early. . . 

Savvy commercial partners sought for novel Australian oat products :

Australian oat noodles and oat ‘rice’ are set to become popular pantry staples here and overseas, once new manufacturing processes developed by the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) are matched with the right commercial partners.

AEGIC is looking for food brands, manufacturers or investors who can fast-track getting the new healthy plant-based products to market, and help move oats beyond the breakfast table to becoming an option for lunch, dinner and snacks.

Developed from Australian oats, which are high in beta glucan, the new products offer superior nutritional benefits.

AEGIC’s oat rice has twice as much dietary fibre than other white and brown rices, fewer carbohydrates, more protein, and a greater concentration of healthy unsaturated fatty acids. . . 

Boosting agricultural insurance based on earth observation data and blockchain technology:

BEACON advances the inclusion of EO satellites within the AgI processes and adopts a smart contract and blockchain technology which will low the operational and administrative costs by transforming traditional processes to automated ones.

Agricultural Insurance (AgI) is the most weather-dependent sector among insurance services. The premiums’ calculations and the development of new products are highly depending on the continuously changing climate and the high variability of extreme weather events, for which such historic records are absent or not sufficiently accurate. In addition, the damage assessment and the handling of claims is rather costly including high operational and administrative costs since the verification of a claim requires on-the-spot inspections. Most of the times, the results of such inspections are controversial, since the final estimations are performed by inspectors who by human nature are less objective. . . 


Rural round-up

04/07/2021

Former homeless men pay it forward to flood hit Canterbury farmers – Nadine Porter:

They were once homeless and in need of a helping hand, so when flood-affected farmers asked for assistance six men living in Christchurch City Mission’s transitional housing were amongst the first to step up.

Working to help clear fences on Chris Allen’s debris-laden farm at Ashburton Forks, the men were inspired by a nationwide scheme that had supplied them with meat direct from New Zealand’s farms.

Meat the Need launched during the Covid-19 lockdown to supply much-needed mince to city missions and foodbanks.

Donated by farmers, the meat is processed, packed and delivered to those most in need. . .

Halal butcher shortage could cost NZ billions – industry chief – Sally Murphy:

The meat processing industry says a shortage of halal butchers could see billions of dollars of export earnings lost.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva made the comments in a submission to the Primary Production Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the future workforce needs of the primary industries.

This year the industry was short about 2000 workers both skilled and unskilled, she said.

“The industry needs about 250 halal butchers each season.” . .

Federated Farmers calls for support to get rates rise reviewed – Chris Dillon:

When times get tough, we all have to tighten our belts right? Unless, you’re Environment Southland it seems.

In fact, councillors have just voted to do the complete opposite, passing a 20 per cent rates increase.

Federated Farmers submission questioned the need for a substantial rates hike, called the council out for lack of detail in consultation documents, and provided alternative solutions to avoid the huge rise.

Ignoring that and the fact that only 10 of the 52 submissions received supported the 20 per cent increase, the majority of councillors voted for it. . .

Farm 4 Life givensupreme honour at KUMA Māori Business Awards:

Trailblazing Kiwi ‘edutainment’ business Farm 4 Life was announced the kaitiaki or guardian of the top 2021 Te Kupeka Umaka Māori ki Araiteuru (KUMA) Māori Business Award last night.

Farm 4 Life, an online learning platform that delivers on-demand education for the dairy industry and owned and founded by Māori farming identity Tangaroa Walker, became the seventh recipient of the Suzanne Spencer Tohu Maumahara Business Award at the KUMA Māori Business Awards. The judges based their decision on the impact Tangaroa was having on his local community using his experience and farming skills to support young people in particular, and the meteoric growth of his online community that puts Southland farming in the spotlight.

KUMA board member and judge Karen Roos (Te Puni Kōkiri) says Tangaroa’s personality and joy in being in front of the camera was an obvious entertainment factor, but particularly that “his life story, his dedication to being on the land, and his manaaki towards others” were significant factors in being honoured on Friday night. “Tangaroa is a strong role model in the community and especially for our rangatahi.” . . .

Operation cheese lollipops a most unusual snack – Michael Andrew:

Eager to discover Fonterra’s milky secrets, Michael Andrew infiltrated the dairy giant’s restricted R&D facility under the guise of a respectable journalist. The mission? Sample the cheese lollipops.

When most New Zealanders think of Fonterra they think of milk – thousands and thousands of tonnes of milk sloshing around in tankers on their way to supermarkets, dairies and cafes across New Zealand every day. They don’t necessarily think about gut-health probiotics being made from billions of strains of bacteria or high protein liquid superfoods being engineered for the convalescing or the elderly.

And why would they? Much of that stuff is being developed behind closed doors at Fonterra’s research and development complex in Palmerston North. But on the day the dairy giant opened its facility to the media for the first time, it wasn’t the probiotics I was most interested in. Nor was it the superfoods. It was the cheese lollipops . .

St Joseph’s Primary Quarry Hills create Bessie for Picasso Cows programme – Alex Gretgrix:

Students at St Joseph’s Primary in Quarry Hill in Bendigo were in the mood for painting during their latest study unit this term.

Over the past few months, prep, grade one and two students learnt all there is to know about dairy farming while designing their new bright bovine as part of Dairy Australia’s Picasso Cows program.

“We wanted our students to learn all about farming life while also honing in on their creative skills and I think they’ve really loved it,” P/1/2 teacher Nathan Walsh said. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

25/06/2021

Canterbury farmworker crushed by 600-kilogram hay bale during recent floods – Nadine Porter:

With a water-logged 600-kilogram hay bale crushing his once strong farming body, Dan began to fight for his life.

He had been sheltering from the heavy rain that flooded much of the Canterbury region late last month, waiting for his boss to finish a phone call before they took the feed wagon out to the cows.

He suddenly saw hay bales falling around him and shouted to his boss to move, but in that split second his choice to run forwards rather than sideways almost cost him his life.

The Westpac Rescue Helicopter crew was in the process of getting Dan on the chopper to fly him to Christchurch Hospital when his partner arrived. . . 

Govt funds sort for Ashburton River shingle removal after floods – Sally Murphy:

Canterbury Regional Council (ECAN) says it needs financial help from central government ==to reinstate the Ashburton River, which flooded this month.

Farmers are frustrated they’ve been left with huge bills to remove shingle off their farms after the river flooded. Some have been offered $3500 from the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Minutes of a council meeting in February show concerns were raised over the increasing amount of shingle in the north branch of the river – a compliance report said gravel was a serious concern and was causing flood capacity constraints.

ECAN said 60,000 cu/m of gravel needed to be removed from the river every year to maintain the flood capacity, but that figure was not met between 2009 and 2018 – gravel extraction averaged 38,000 cubic square metres annually. . .

Significant investment underway to help farmers tackle facial eczema :

We’re developing new methods to help farmers tackle facial eczema, a disease which is costing the dairy industry around $30 million in lost production each year.

Facial eczema (FE) is caused by a fungal toxin which is mainly found in summer and autumn pastures in the North Island and Upper South Island. When cattle eat this pasture they ingest the toxin which causes liver damage, lowered production and in some circumstances, skin irritation and peeling.

LIC Chief Scientist Richard Spelman says the co-operative is leveraging its expertise in genetics and diagnostic testing to help farmers combat the effects of the disease.

“We’re focused on helping our farmers optimise value from their livestock by enabling them to produce the most sustainable and efficient animals,” says Spelman. . . 

Feds advocacy on true regulations pays dividends – Simon Edwards:

The new regulations for stockpiling tyres are about to become law, and Federated Farmers is mostly pleased with the way they have landed for farmers.

“We’ve been involved in the consultation with the Ministry for the Environment for almost four years.  But it’s been worth it and shows that it is possible to develop pragmatic regulations to achieve environmental aims and enable common farming practices,” Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“Farmers, like urban residents, do not want used tyre dumps in our neighbourhood.  This regulation makes it clear that outdoor tyre dumps are unacceptable in New Zealand.” . . 

 

Horizon’s workshop a chance for farmers to discuss freshwater issues:

Federated Farmers is calling on farmers in the Horizons region to get out and get involved in community meetings being held this week and next about freshwater and farming.

Feds thinks the venues which have been selected for the workshops give an indication of the areas which need to be aware of increased council concern in the future.

“So it’s worthwhile showing up to the meetings if there is one being held in your patch,” Manawatu Rangitikei Fed Farmers president Murray Holdaway says.

Topics to be covered at the two-hour workshops include Te Mana o te Wai, intensive winter grazing, fish passage, feedlots, stockholding areas, synthetic nitrogen, stock exclusion and wetlands. . .

A breath of fresh air in the debate about carbon – Joanna Blythman;

I have lost count of all the headline stories reporting that livestock farming is an environmental disaster.

You know the script. A team of researchers at some respected university has calculated that the carbon footprint of animal foods is unsustainably heavy.

With our current forelock-tugging attitude to academia, the general public, and even specialist environment and science writers take such statistics at face value because we don’t know how to examine the metrics that underpin them.

Narrow calculations are applied, measurements based on the number of calories supplied, or protein per 100g, water usage and the like. None give a rounded picture. . .


Rural round-up

22/06/2021

Farmers’ $3500 flood clean-up grants ‘disappointing’ – Sally Murphy:

Canterbury farmers who are still cleaning up after the floods earlier this month are being offered $3500.

Heavy rain caused rivers in the region to flood, ripping out fences, washing away feed and depositing huge amounts of shingle on some farms.

The government declared an adverse event and allocated $500,000 to help those affected; $100,000 to three Rural Support Trusts in the area, $350,000 making up the Canterbury Flood Response Fund and $50,000 set aside for other recovery support.

Staff from the Ministry for Primary Industries, councils and industry organisations have been on the ground assessing flood damage on farms. . . 

Govt’s plan for natural areas a brewing scandal – Mike Hosking:

I have become interested in the government’s Significant Natural Areas debacle.

It’s made news of late because of James Shaw appearing to mislead people over how much is or isn’t going on at local council level and the weekend’s protest at Kaikohe.

By way of background, this all began under Nick Smith in 2017. A SNA is basically what is says, important remnants of native habitat. The problem is the councils get to decide what to do with it; remember this is your land.

Once they decide it’s significant, you’re stuck. Existing activity can continue, but future activity is severely curtailed. . .

Meet the 2021 Fieldays Innovation Awards winners :

Winners at the 2021 Fieldays Innovation Awards have shown how Kiwi ingenuity and cutting-edge ideas are tackling the primary industry’s biggest challenges.

The winners were announced June 17, after more than 65 entries were received from across New Zealand.

The awards had a new format for 2021, after Covid-19 saw the 2020 event hosted online, Fieldays Innovation Event Manager Gail Hendricks said.

“Categories were organised to follow the innovation life cycle and provide the support, mentoring and exposure innovators needed to bring their revolutionary products to market or grow market share.” . . 

Taieri holidays inspired career path – Shawn McAvinue:

An Australian boy’s dream of a career in the pastoral industries was born during an annual working holiday on a Strath Taieri farm.

The dream was realised by using the tools of science.

Jason Archer joined the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics team at the start of this month.

Dr Archer was born and raised in Australia. . . 

‘Back from the brink’: Vet pulls out all the stops for calf – Sally Rae:

Warning – this is a heartwarming story.

When Oamaru vet George Smith got called to a sick calf on a North Otago dairy farm late last month, it was a standard callout.

But on arrival, dairy farmer Nathan Bayne told him the 4-day-old heifer was the most valuable calf he had ever had and was possibly worth more than $50,000.

Mr Bayne and his wife Amanda, from Henley Farming Co, own the prominent stud Busybrook Holsteins, near Duntroon, which recently held its “platinum edition” sale which generated turnover of $863,000 and a top price of $38,000. . . 

Rural Aid supports farmers with $1000 grants in mouse plight – Samantha Townsend:

They were there in the drought, bushfires and floods, now Rural Aid is stepping in to help farmers battling the prolonged mouse plague.

The national rural charity has announced a $1 million fund to assist mouse plague affected farmers across the country, opening applications for $1000 grants.

“Whether you are a producer in Queensland or out the back of Wellington in NSW or in Victoria or South Australia, people have the common problem and that’s the mice,” Rural Aid CEO John Warlters told The Land.

Mr Warlters said the ongoing feedback they had been receiving was about the circumstances people have been confronted with in the mouse plague nightmare. . . 

 


Rural round-up

12/05/2021

Forestry conversions election promise misses its deadline – Sally Murphy:

The government has failed to meet a deadline it set itself to give local councils more control when dealing with forestry conversions.

Last year the Labour Party made a pre-election promise that it would give local councils the power to determine what classes of land could be used for forestry in the first six months of its term.

This was in response to concerns from some rural communities that too much productive land was being lost to forestry.

Last week a public meeting was held in North Otago, where the community is outraged at plans that will see a large sheep and beef farm at the head of the Kakanui River converted into a permanent carbon forest. . . 

Hawke’s Bay grower’s $600k managed isolation bill: ‘It’s a complete train wreck‘ – Sahiban Hyde :

One Hawke’s Bay fruitgrower has revealed the eye-watering cost of bringing seasonal workers into New Zealand via managed isolation, describing the situation as a “complete train wreck”.

The Government’s allocation of more spaces in managed isolation for seasonal workers has had a lukewarm reception in the region.

Monday’s announcement included space for a further 2400 workers under the RSE scheme, arriving mostly from Pacific island countries, by March.

It also included the allocation of 500 spaces a fortnight in managed isolation over the next 10 months to specific groups based on demand – mostly for skilled and critical workers. . .

Tahr control operations more collaborative but tahr plan still  but needs updating :

The Tahr Foundation is pleased that the 2021-2022 tahr control operational plan released indicates the Department of Conservation has utilised the knowledge and expertise of the hunting sector. The Tahr Foundation and other hunting organisations are trying to assist DOC target control work where it is needed most.

“Hunters are in the hills very regularly and often for extended periods,” says NZ Tahr Foundation Spokesperson Willie Duley.

“Following consecutive years of heavy culling, there are now huge variations in tahr population densities, even within the same management units. We have been able to provide DOC with information and maps that set out where tahr numbers are low and no culling is required and also where we think tahr numbers still need reducing.”

“Coupled with information from population surveys and control operations this provides a more current and comprehensive knowledge base so more informed decisions can be made each year. It simply comes down to killing the right tahr in the right place and we look forward to seeing our input included when the control operations commence” . .

New Zealand wine industry welcomes government’s decision to recommence the movement of RSE workers from the Pacific:

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes the Government announcement today to recommence the movement of RSE workers from the Pacific to New Zealand.

“The announcement today will help the New Zealand wine industry secure access to the supply of off-shore labour that we need, to ensure that we can continue to make premium quality wine. At least some of these workers will arrive in time for winter pruning, a skilled role at which they excel. This decision will benefit workers, their families and our wine regions,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

“The projected labour shortage has been a real concern for some regions, especially Marlborough and Central Otago, and we need this additional labour supply to meet our seasonal peak demands.” . . 

Public invited to join hemp revolution:

The countdown is on for the organisers of the iHemp Summit and Expo as they prepare to put the industry on display for the general public for the first time in Rotorua this May.

The Summit, which will see industry members come together for a two day conference, is followed by a free public expo of hemp food, fibre and health products.

Billed as one of the most sustainable plants in the world, Summit organiser Richard Barge says that the uses for hemp are virtually unlimited. . . 

New 100 percent merino range available for year-round wear:

The new pure merino range at Ecowool is a brilliant blend of comfort, style, and warmth.

Ecowool is pleased to announce they are now stocking a 100% pure merino wool range, available now at ecowool.com. It joins new possum merino products for the current season.

According to Ecowool spokesperson Karen Collyer, the new range consists of wardrobe staples that are perfect for all year round, such as polo necks, crew necks, jackets, and cardigans.

“We feel investing in quality basics is key to pulling your wardrobe together,” she says. . . 


Rural round-up

07/05/2021

Rabbits march on Queenstown –  Melanie Reid:

A new breed of rabbit has arrived on the scene in Central Otago: the ‘lifestyle rabbit’. With the growth in new multimillion dollar homes and subdivisions comes a headache for landowners.

Ihug co-founder Tim Wood now avoids some parts of his 10-acre rural Wakatipu idyll because it’s too depressing to see his plantings and landscaping trashed by rabbits yet again.

“It looks beautiful from a distance, but when you get up close, it’s an absolute ecological disaster. It’s out of control. We’re back at the late eighties and early nineties sort of stage of how bad it is.”

Recently planted natives collapse into the stream as rabbits undermine their root systems and some mornings up to 30 rabbits have their breakfast on the lawn as Wood eats his metres away in his kitchen. An attractive bank slowly turns into a swiss-cheese dustbowl and costly native trees get planted, ring-barked and eventually thrown on the compost heap. . . 

Fonterra starts consultation on capital structure:

Today Fonterra is starting a consultation process to seek farmer feedback on potential options to change its capital structure that could give farmers greater financial flexibility.

To allow its farmers to have open conversations and consider all options during consultation, the 
Co-operative is temporarily capping the size of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund (the Fund) by suspending shares in the Fonterra Shareholders’ Market (FSM) from being exchanged into units in the Fund.

This temporary cap will be effective once the current trading halt is lifted when the market opens tomorrow and will remain throughout the consultation process.

Chairman Peter McBride says the capital structure review seeks to ensure the sustainability of the 
Co-operative into the future. . . 

Scores attend Oamaru meeting to raise concerns over large scale forest farm – Sally Murphy:

More than 100 people showed up to a meeting in Oamaru last night to raise concerns about a large scale forest farm being developed in the area.

A 2500 hectare sheep and beef farm at the headwaters of the Kakanui River has been bought by New Zealand Carbon Farming.

The company establishes permanent forests to mitigate climate change through carbon credits.

Locals say the company already has one farm in the Waitaki region which is already showing adverse environmental affects. . . 

New study finds Taurua District could grow blueberries, hazelnuts, apples and feijoas:

A new study for alternative land uses in the Tararua District shows blueberries, hazelnuts, cider apples and feijoas could be successfully grown in the area.

The report commissioned by The Tararua District Council and done by AgFirst assessed the soil quality, climate and economics of each crop.

AgFirst horticulture consultant Leander Archer said it builds on another project done in the early 2000s which looked at what crops were best for the area.

“What we found is that all four crops could grow well in some areas of the Tararua, but conditions differed from area to area. . . 

Rural health professionals welcome Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network:

Members of the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network (the Network) held up green cards in show of support for the proposal to form a collective organisation Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network on Saturday 1 May 2021.

During the Network’s AGM at the National Rural Health Conference in Taupō, the Network Board put forward the proposal to form Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network and to transition the Network’s functions and role to this new organisation over a 12-month period.

More members turned up for this AGM than ever before to show their support and have their say on the future of the Network, and the resolutions to form the collective organisation Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network were passed.

Network Chief Executive Dr Grant Davidson says that this is a significant step in the evolution of the Network. . . 

Research shows growth in tree stock sales:

Latest research by Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service shows seedling sales hit almost 92 million seedlings in 2020, 3 million more than the year before, says Acting Deputy Director-General Henry Weston.

The findings are an annual survey of tree stock sales from commercial forestry nurseries, called the Provisional Estimates of Tree Stock Sales and Forest Planting.

“The increase in seedling sales is positive, as it shows continued strong interest in tree planting.

“Tree planting is a vital tool in efforts to boost environmental gains, and help New Zealand to reach its economic potential, particularly our recovery from COVID-19,” says Mr Weston. . . 

Leasing provides appealing pathway to land stewardship:

Leasing the farm out rather than selling it is proving a new approach to the old challenges of succession, income generation, and farm business growth, providing a level of flexibility for parties on both sides of the leasing fence.

Bayleys Gisborne director and country salesperson Simon Bousfield says with an aging farmer population more landowners are rapidly approaching a point where they may be wishing to exit their property to enjoy retirement, and succession options aren’t available within the family.

However, they can find buyers are either limited in number, or limited by a lack of financial capital to meet the property’s market value.

“But it is also a case that this low interest rate environment is a double-edged sword. . . 


Rural round-up

29/04/2021

Marlborough firm looks at marketing reject apples for stock feed: Sally Murphy:

A Marlborough company is looking whether using excess or reject apples from Nelson orchards could be used as stock feed in dry areas along the east coast.

Farmers around Seddon and Ward are struggling with extremely dry conditions. Many have started to feed out early, with concerns supplementary feed will run out before the winter.

Kiwi Seed owner Bruce Clarke said apples were used as feed by some farmers last year and with difficulties getting peas and barley more are interested in the fruit this year.

Before marketing apples to farmers, Clarke is investigating what nutritional benefit the fruit may have. . . 

Sam Vivian-Greer crowned New Zealand winner of top agri-award in impressive setting:

The future looks extremely bright for Sam Vivian-Greer of Masterton, who received the coveted 2021 New Zealand Zanda McDonald Award this morning, at a dawn ceremony at Whangara Farms, north of Gisborne.

Vivian-Greer, 31, is a Farm Consultant at BakerAg in the Wairarapa, working alongside farmers who are keen to improve and better their farming operations, and has developed mentoring groups to further develop farm managers and agricultural professionals.

The annual Award, regarded as a badge of honour by the agribusiness industry, recognises and supports talented and passionate young professionals in the ag sector from Australia and New Zealand. Vivian-Greer will receive an impressive prize package centred around mentoring, education and training that is 100% tailored to his needs.

Zanda McDonald Award Patron Shane McManaway says “Sam is a warm and professional person, who has a strong passion for agriculture, and is having a really positive influence on the sector. The judging team was really impressed with his dedication to his role, his leadership and spirit. We’re excited to see what the future holds for Sam, and look forward to helping him carve out his path through the opportunities provided by the Award, in particular the trans-Tasman mentoring package.” . . 

Winter grazing rules show Wellington doesn’t understand farming:

“Today’s release of the winter grazing standards again show a Government out of touch with the primary sector,” says ACT’s Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron.

“It’s in a farmer’s best interest to look after their land and their animals but Government can’t bring themselves to acknowledge this.

“Farmers are continually improving their practices but the Government is intent on sharing the virtues of what it thinks should be on farm practices, without ever having done it.

“Farmers are the best custodians of the land and hold animal welfare to the utmost standards. Sadly here politics often suffocates practicality. . . 

Public access group takes LINZ to court to protect access to iconic back-country road:

Public Access New Zealand (PANZ) has launched legal proceedings to improve and protect public access to one of New Zealand’s most iconic landscapes.

Molesworth Recreation Reserve is one of New Zealand’s most spectacular backcountry areas and the iconic Acheron Road which runs through it has been used by the public for over 150 years. But public access to the area is being unlawfully restricted by the Department of Conservation (DOC), which manages the reserve.

PANZ has filed proceedings in the High Court in Wellington to seek declarations confirming the status of the public roads running through Molesworth Recreation Reserve, with the aim of guaranteeing public access.

PANZ spokesperson Stewart Hydes says Molesworth occupies a special place in New Zealand history and must be protected. . . 

Dark sky park an option to extend tourism in Fiordland:

Fiordland’s brilliant night sky could soon be as much an attraction to domestic and international visitors as its stunning daytime scenery.

Great South has been working with the Fiordland community and stakeholders on the possibility of it becoming an accredited Dark Sky Park with the International Dark Sky Association.

Great South GM Tourism and Events Bobbi Brown said the night sky over Fiordland was of exceptional quality and early indications suggest it would meet the required level for international designation and potentially add another string to the bow for tourism operators.

“If Fiordland National Park received IDA Park designation it would make it the second largest Dark Sky Park in the world, second only to Death Valley National Park in the USA.” . . \

Beef farm on verge of destocking due to all-Wales NVZ :

A beef farming family in Glamorgan have warned they may have to give up keeping cattle if the Welsh government’s new all-Wales NVZ rules are not adjusted.

Beef and sheep farmers Richard Walker and Rachel Edwards run Flaxland Farm – a 120 acre farm outside of Barry, Glamorgan.

They have warned they may have to sell their cattle if the Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) rules are not amended to incorporate recommendations made by industry groups.

In January the Welsh government announced that it will introduce an NVZ designation across the whole of Wales. . . 


Rural round-up

22/04/2021

Risks to our industry – Elbow Deep:

On the 14th of August 2020, Gulf Livestock 1 left the Port of Napier bound for China carrying 43 crew and 5,867 cattle. Seventeen days into its journey, after sailing into the path of a typhoon and losing power to its engine, Gulf Livestock 1 capsized with only one crew member surviving and all the animals on board perishing.

This tragedy spurred the Government to suspend live export shipments while a review was undertaken. Two months later shipments resumed but the writing was on the wall, public sentiment had been heavily against the practice for years, and last week the Government announced shipments of live animals would be phased out over two years’ time.

It doesn’t matter that the sinking of Gulf Livestock 1 was a maritime disaster unrelated to its cargo, the vessel had been flagged in both Indonesia and Australia for poor engine maintenance and improperly filed voyage plans, or that it was the only vessel to head directly into the typhoon while all the other ships in the vicinity sought shelter. . . 

Nor does it matter what the conditions were like on-board more modern livestock carriers; how much feed is available; how many vets are on call or even if that the animals gain weight on their journey. . .

Farmers struggling to access water for stock – Sally Murphy:

Dry conditions around the country are causing issues with stock drinking water supplies and crop production a new survey has found.

Nearly 550 farmers responded to Federated Farmers 2021 Drought Survey over the last couple of weeks, painting a picture of conditions.

The survey found with little to no rain farmers are struggling to access water for their stock as dams waterways and aquifers are either substantially lower than normal or completely dry.

Respondents also highlighted issues with authority operated schemes not able to monitor those who are taking too much water from urban development, causing those down the scheme to have too little. . . 

‘Designer’ deer herds touted to help farmers – Hugo Cameron:

A researcher looking at the different foraging behaviours of deer says it could help farmers create the perfect “designer herd” for their land.

AgResearch associate Bryan Thompson said individual deer had preferences for where they wanted to feed – ranging from intensive lowland farms to rugged high-country hills.

He said there was a range of factors that influenced where a deer wanted to forage, including its personality, health, social interactions, past experience, food availability and diet.

Thompson said if those foraging behaviours were better understood, it might be possible to create herds with deer that were suited to specific farms. . . 

‘Game-changer’ tool for agricultural aircraft safety – Riley Kennedy:

A new tool has been launched to make sure agricultural spreader pilots are safer in the air.

Mosgiel technology company TracMap released its new TML-A GPS aviation guidance unit yesterday at a special event at the Otago aerodrome.

The digital, touch screen system, which sits in the cockpit with the pilots, aims to make the pilots’ time in the air more effective, enjoyable, and eliminates one of their greatest risks.

The new system can detect wires, such as powerlines, and lets the pilots know when the hazards are near. . . 

Smaller vintage of exceptional quality:

The New Zealand wine harvest is nearing completion, and a superb summer throughout most of the country means the industry is looking forward to a vintage of excellent quality, according to New Zealand Winegrowers.

“All reports indicate the quality of the harvest so far is exceptional, and we are looking forward to some fantastic wines coming out of this year’s vintage,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

While it is still too early to confirm final numbers, it is clear the overall crop size is down on previous years. “There will be some variability across different parts of the country, but the industry is anticipating a significantly smaller vintage across several New Zealand wine regions this year.” . . 

Substantial Northland kiwifruit landholding placed on the market for sale:

A substantial kiwifruit landholding owned and managed by New Zealand’s biggest kiwifruit producer – and with potential to convert vines to higher-value kiwifruit varieties – has been placed on the market for sale.

The portfolio consists of three blocks in Kerikeri, Northland. Combined, the three separate lots comprise some 12 hectares of kiwifruit growing operations in various stages of production – complete with irrigation and established shelters – and a further near 15 hectares of land.

The property is owned and fully managed by leading New Zealand kiwifruit growing and harvesting specialist firm Seeka. In their current format and configuration, the orchards within the Kerikeri block consist of: . . 


Rural round-up

13/04/2021

Red meat retreat – Neal Wallace:

This year’s prime lamb production is headed to be the lowest on record, reflecting low farmer confidence, and could result in fewer ewe numbers, Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) is warning.

The number of lambs likely to be processed this season is estimated at 18.2 million, a drop of 4.5%, or 900,000, compared to 2019-20, with total export production of 347,600 tonnes bone-in.

“This will be the lowest lamb production on record. Confidence in the industry is subdued,” the B+LNZ report said.

“Farm gate prices have eased from recent high levels, farmers are wary of the volatility of weather events and environmental regulation is weighing heavily on morale. Forestry is also spreading into sheep farming land. . .

Bills on tax creep and sound law-making deserve public debate – Feds:

A government committed to fairness and responsible law-making should not allow two bills recently drawn from the Member’s Ballot to sink without debate, Federated Farmers says.

“At the very least the Regulatory Standards Bill and the Income Tax (Adjustment of Taxable Income Ranges) Amendment Bill deserve to go to select committee for examination and public submissions,” Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard said.

The Regulatory Standards Bill would require any proposed legislation to be subject to clear analysis of the problem the legislation is aimed at solving, a thorough cost-benefit analysis of expected outcomes and adequate consultation with affected parties.

“Quite frankly with such requirements, the Essential Freshwater legislation and the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill – to name just two recent examples – would not have got through as written,” Andrew said. . . 

Resting in fleece – Annette Scott:

Choosing an end of life in wool has become a popular option as woollen caskets take off in New Zealand.

Ten years ago when Polly and Ross McGuckin launched Natural Legacy woollen caskets in NZ the idea struggled to gain traction.

“We were seen as eco warriors, there wasn’t the interest then, I was flogging a dead horse, but now people are waking up, the public is listening and the table is turning,” Polly McGuckin said.

“The world is changing and funeral homes want to do the right thing by being eco-friendly and sustainable – it’s a lot easier to talk about wool now, every year we are seeing interest grow. . . .

Love of the land a Shaw thing:

Farm Environment Plans are not just about cows, grass and other farm management practices, says Ross Shaw – they are an integral part of any farmer’s connection to the land.

Shaw, along with wife Karla and parents Jim and Helen, have a deep and strongly held philosophy about the land. That dovetails with his recent enthusiastic embrace of a Farm Environment Plan (FEP) – one of the many compulsory (by 2025) calls on farmers’ time and wallets in order to improve nutrient management and reduce farming’s impact on water quality.

Jim and Helen Shaw bought the Reporoa property 36 years ago when it was 62 hectares and with 150 cows; it’s now 400ha, with many more cows and farmed, for the last 13 years, with Ross and Karla.

It is also the subject of a long-held family belief in multi-generational farming and what that means in terms of custodianship of the land: “We are like most New Zealand farmers – we want to be here for multi-generations,” Ross says.  “We were farming in our own right [before joining up with his parents] and our kids will be the third generation on this farm. . . 

Relief in Australia as welcome mat goes out for New Zealand shearers – Sally Murphy:

Australian farmers are breathing a sigh of relief as much needed New Zealand shearers will now be able to travel over for their busy spring season.

Covid-19 border closures have meant nearly 500 New Zealand shearers who normally travel to Australia to help out have been unable to.

Shearing Contractors Association of Australia secretary Jason Letchford said it’s been tough going with farmers paying almost double per sheep to have them shorn.

“It’s been really tough and there’s been months of delays. The standard rate over here for shearing a sheep is $A3.24 [$NZ3.51] but now in New South Wales which has about 40 percent of the country’s sheep it’s hard to get a shear for under $A3.72. . . 

China trade tactics didn’t hurt AUstralia as anticipated – Jamieson Murphy:

CHINA’S aggressive trade tariffs have cost the Australian economy millions of dollars, but the damage isn’t anywhere nearly as bad as originally anticipated, according to leading think tank economists.

Across the affected commodities, trade to China is down about 78 per cent. But the trade sanctions took place against the backdrop of COVID-19 which “significantly clouds the picture”, Lowy Institute lead economist Roland Rajah said. 

Nonetheless, one can parse the evidence to arrive at some conclusions and it would seem the impact has in fact been quite limited,” Mr Rajah said.

“Exports to China have predictably collapsed in the areas hit by sanctions, but most of this lost trade seems to have found other markets.”. . .


Rural round-up

21/10/2020

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. . . 


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