Rural round-up

29/11/2020

RSE deal too little too late:

The Government’s announcement it’s allowing 2000 horticultural workers enter New Zealand through the RSE scheme is better than nothing, but it’s still just a drop in the bucket of what is actually needed, National’s Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“Overall this is a poor deal for New Zealand’s horticulture industry, for New Zealand, and for the RSE workers themselves. Firstly, 2000 workers is not enough, it’s less than one seventh of quota (which is more than 14,000) of RSE workers the sector would normally have available to pick these key export products.

“Secondly, it’s far too little and far too late. Spring and early summer crops have already missed out on these workers, but the Government has known about these problems for months, and is only acting at the eleventh hour.

“The time has come to allow RSE workers from Pacific countries to isolate in bubbles in RSE accommodation, like sports teams, provided by the industry. The countries where these RSE workers come from are Covid-free so there is little to no risk of transmission in transit as workers will come direct to New Zealand. . . 

Government’s seasonal workers move ‘not enough, but a good start’ – Charlotte Cook:

An influx of seasonal workers is a relief for the horticulture and wine industries with the government giving a border exemption to 2000 seasonal workers.

The experienced workers will begin arriving from the Pacific in January and will spend two weeks in isolation before starting the harvest.

So after months of angst, the horticulture and wine sector will get some of the seasonal workers they are desperate for.

But they come with a cost. Employers must first pay for managed isolation – currently estimated at $4722 per person and pay at least $22.10 an hour – the living wage. . .

Farrow crate use ‘saves piglets’ lives’ – Sally Rae:

Former New Zealand Pork chairman Ian Carter is saddened by a High Court ruling that the use of farrowing crates is unlawful, saying they save “millions” of piglets globally every year.

Animal welfare groups Safe and the New Zealand Animal Law Association took the Attorney-general, the Minister of Agriculture and the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) to court in June saying the use of farrowing and mating crates breached the Animal Welfare Act 1999, RNZ reported.

In its decision, the court said the agriculture minister must consider new regulations phasing out the use of farrowing crates and mating stalls, and improve minimum standards.

Mr Carter, who farms in North Otago, said no other system got close to meeting the needs of farmed pigs. He estimated farrowing crates could save more than 200 piglets a day in New Zealand if they were universally used. . . 

Dairying family reaps rewards from robots :

Manawatū dairy farmers Amy and Greg Gemmell are enjoying more family time these days, thanks to three shiny machines in their dairy shed.

No longer does Greg need to be out of the house before dawn to milk the herd as they have installed robots to do that chore 24/7.

The cows come to the dairy shed whenever they feel like it to be milked.

“They come in when they’re ready,” Amy says. . . 

A swing to sheep milk:

Switching from milking goats and cows to milking sheep has been likened to swimming three lengths underwater by Te Aroha dairy goat and cow farmer Paul Schuler.

He is one of four Waikato based farmers that this season have taken on milking sheep for Maui Milk.

Come June, as his new sheep were about to arrive on the former cow farm, he was still completing  a milking shed and fixing fences.

Covid slowed developement down, but Schuler says the ram didn’t know that. His lambs were going to arrive on time. . . 

Researchers make wheat genome breakthrough – Gregor Heard:

Just two years after the bread wheat genome was finally mapped for the first time, a crack team of international scientists, including researchers from the University of Western Australia, have sequenced and analysed the genomes of 16 key wheat varieties from around the globe.

The research, including varieties that represent different breeding programs from around the world, provides the most comprehensive atlas of wheat genome sequences reported to date.

The genomic study, published in Nature Journal by the University of Saskatchewan, involved an international effort by more than 90 scientists from universities and institutes in Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, the U.K., Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Israel, and the U.S. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

26/11/2020

Pandemic pressure affects export supply chain – Richard Rennie:

Exporters can expect frustrating delays for container deliveries port schedules over the peak of the export season, as logistics and trucking companies struggle with supply chain bottlenecks.

National Road Carriers Association chief executive David Aitken says his members are experiencing unprecedented delays at container depots and ports, with trucks queueing for several hours before collecting their container load.

“There are capacity issues right now, with ships sometimes running 10-12 days behind schedule; I do not think they are taking as many voyages in and out,” he said. 

“The vehicle booking system (for container exchange) is simply unable to keep up. We have trucking companies that now have to give two to three days’ notice for container collection.” . . 

Convinced wool’s worth investing in – Sally Rae:

Bruce Abbott acknowledges he has got a lot out of the wool industry and, conversely, he always felt he should put something back.

Mr Abbott (74) retires at the end of this year as executive officer of the New Zealand Wool Classers Association. He will still keep his hand in an industry in which his involvement has spanned 60 years.

Established in 2006, NZWCA was established to promote the interests of its wool classer, grader and woolhandler members. It also welcomed participation of people working in other parts of the wool value chain.

Mr Abbott, who lives in Mosgiel, was on the board of NZWCA for four years before being appointed executive officer, a role he has held for six years. . .

PINZ Awards presented in Wellington:

The primary industry’s ‘Leadership Award’ was presented last night to Southland drystock farmer Bernadette Hunt at Te Papa in Wellington.

The Primary Industries awards are in their second year and aim to recognise and celebrate achievement within New Zealand’s most valuable industry.

Bernadette’s award recognised her commitment to advocating for farming, particularly given her efforts to highlight the challenges farmers face nationwide measuring up to the government’s new freshwater regulations.

“Bernadette has the rare combination of having a clear vision of what’s right and wrong, being able to articulate a strong message and bring others on the journey. She absolutely leads by example,” Federated Farmers chief executive Terry Copeland said. . . 

Decision on pay affects Alliance – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group’s annual result includes a $19.9million provision for back-paying employees for the time spent putting on and removing work-related protective gear and clothing.

In May last year, the Court of Appeal declined an appeal from meat industry employers against an Employment Court decision that ruled “donning and doffing” was “work”.

That decision meant workers would be paid for the time they spent preparing to go to and from rest and meal breaks, including taking off and cleaning their safety equipment and going through complex hygiene processes.

In a statement announcing the annual result yesterday, Alliance Group said a proposal to resolve those claims was subject to ratification by the New Zealand Meat Workers Union. . .

The dog and ram run :

Grizz, the huntaway, is not fond of being touched.

Which doesn’t make veterinarian Tara Gower’s job easy.

Grizz is one of hundreds of working dogs that, at this time of year, are visited for an annual check-up.

Tara says it makes sense for the vet to travel to the dogs. . .

New Zealand Rural Land Company to list on NZX stock market:

The recently formed New Zealand Rural Land Company is planning to list on the NZX stock market later next month with an initial public offer of shares.

The company is looking to raise between $75 million and $150m, and follows a private capital-raising for wholesale investors in June and July.

The company plans to invest in rural land, without direct exposure to agricultural operations and commodity price volatility.

It is offering between 60 and 120 million shares at an issue price of $1.25 each. . .


Rural round-up

24/11/2020

Trust Alliance primary industry consortium launches:

A new consortium working to enhance the reputation and competitiveness of New Zealand’s primary industry sector is launching at the Primary Industries Summit at Te Papa today. Trust Alliance New Zealand (TANZ) is New Zealand’s first national blockchain consortium focused on the primary sector. Its intent is to be a change agent for primary industries, connecting participants and providers across the entire primary sector value chain.

Trust Alliance had its beginnings late last year when a small group of organisations came together to establish a trusted digital platform for New Zealand producers, growers, exporters, retailers and consumers to easily share verified and trusted data. It now has 22 members and is growing monthly.

Chair of the Trust Alliance and Chief Executive of Potatoes New Zealand, Chris Claridge, says it provides a platform for sharing data, to prove provenance, authentication and food safety as well as biosecurity tracking and tracing. . . 

A2 Milk has last some of its share market gloss but has become a formidable dairy player with a bright outlook  – Point of Order:

Two  encouraging signals from the  dairy industry this week underlined  its strength  as  the backbone   of the  NZ  export  economy, all the  more vital since  the  Covid-driven collapse  of the international tourist  industry.

First  came  news that prices  strengthened  at the  latest  Fonterra  global dairy  trade  auction, with  the  average price reaching  $US3157  a  tonne. Prices for other products sold were mixed, with gains for butter and skim milk powder, but falls for cheese and other products.

Analysts  said  it  was  positive  to see  good, strong  demand  from   China. The  price  of  wholemilk powder  which  strongly  influences the  level of  payout to Fonterra’s  suppliers  moved  up  1.8% to $US3037  a tonne. . .

Providing a female take on farm training – Guy Williams:

The best way to succeed is to help others succeed.

That is the mantra of Laura Douglas, who has been instrumental in setting up New Zealand’s first women-only farm training school at Fairlight Station, near Garston.

Miss Douglas had already attracted national media attention after setting up her company, Real Country, about four years ago to give tourists an insight into farm life.

Then came Covid.

The bottom fell out of the tourism market, and her livelihood. . . 

Incredible life in Outback – Sally Rae:

Meet Liz Cook — wife, mother and bull catcher.

She works with her husband Willie to wrangle feral cattle in Australia’s remote Northern Territory, while raising the couple’s two young sons Charlie and Blake.

It is an extraordinary lifestyle for the couple, who hail from Central Otago, giving their children experiences that few others will ever have.

Home to spend time with family and give the boys a taste of a New Zealand upbringing, Mrs Cook outlined life on Bauhinia Downs Station, a 324,000ha property — small by the area’s standards — that the couple lease. . . 

Auckland butcher awarded inaugural Slow Food Snail –  Regina Wypch:

Fourteen Auckland region food businesses became New Zealand’s first to be awarded the Slow Food “Snail of Approval”, at an event held last Tuesday evening. A huge congratulations to A Lady Butcher – Hannah Miller who was amongst these inaugural and deserving recipients.

The Slow Food movement aims to change the world through food and celebrates the love of food cultures, rituals, and traditions. Slow Food Auckland Committee Member Anutosh Cusack says ‘The internationally recognised Snail of Approval programme promotes and celebrates locally grown and produced food that is good, clean and fair and the people who make it happen.

But what is good, clean fair food? – Good – seasonal, local, quality, flavoursome and healthy food. Clean – produced sustainably with low impact on the environment.  And Fair ensures accessible prices for consumers and fair conditions and pay for producers and staff.

“By recognising their intent, passion and effort rather than perfection, the Snail of Approval is intended to inspire all types of food businesses to embrace Slow Food principles,” says Ms Cusack. . . 

Growing a family legacy – Regina Wypch:

What started with planting some acacia trees 25 years ago has become a multi-generational passion for the Hunt family in Te Awamutu.

“Grandpa was against it at the time; Grandma claims she suggested it,” says Sophia Hunt, whose grandparents were the original owners of Orakau Dairy in Te Awamutu, Waikato. Sophia now helps farm Orakau – a 350-cow operation split into two herds – alongside her parents Rose and Vernon, and sister Margie. What grandma and grandpa were disputing was Rose and Vernon shutting up a 1.5ha paddock with some mature acacias about 25 years ago, allowing the self-seeded acacias to grow, instead of being nibbled off each time cows grazed the paddock. 

The farm had a few stands of mature macrocarpas at the time, planted for timber and used by cows for shade and shelter. But the macrocarpas needed to be milled, and there was concern about the trees causing slips. . . 

Recalling a pastoral saga – Stephen Burns:

It was not surprising Alastair Cox pursued a pastoral career.

The descendant of Merino pioneer William Cox who established the first land grant in the Bathurst district after crossing the Blue Mountains in 1814, he is very proud of his Merino heritage.

Subsequent generations of the Cox family established themselves as leading Merino breeders in the Mudgee region: and Alastair’s direct forbear James Cox made Tasmania his home at Clarendon, near Evandale.

Upon leaving school, Alastair started work in the Newmarket saleyards in Melbourne where he was employed by the agency Dal Adams and Co. . . 

 


Rural round-up

20/11/2020

Animal welfare clock ticking on cheater boarder decision:

Federated Farmers and the Shearing Contractors Association are looking for an urgent decision from the government to allow experienced sheep shearers into the country.

“We’ve been reminding the government since late winter we are going to have increasing urgency around the need for shearers this summer,” Federated Farmers immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

As the weather heats up, the urgency increases.

Federated Farmers Meat and Wool Chair and Wairarapa farmer William Beetham says animal welfare is becoming an issue. . .

Farmers continue protest momentum with group petition – Sally Rae:

A group of farmers is planning its next move — including a petition to Parliament and a farmer meeting in Gore — in a bid to seek changes to the national policy statement (NPS) for freshwater management.

Groundswell NZ stemmed from last month’s tractor trek in Gore, which was organised by farmers Laurie Paterson, of Greenvale, and Bryce McKenzie, of Pomahaka.

Yesterday, Mr Paterson said the group was looking at what it could do to “make our voice heard” and it was buoyed by the support already received.

There had been an overwhelming response to the tractor trek and he and Mr McKenzie felt they could not leave it there. . . 

Horticultural training offers high-value career options to Northland youths:

Thanks to a partnership between Plant & Food Research and Orangewood Packhouse, over the last four years 51 students from five Northland secondary schools have graduated from a horticultural programme that offers hands-on training and NCEA credits.

The Kerikeri Gateway Horticulture Schools Programme has recently secured additional funding from Te Taitokerau Trades Academy to continue its 5th session in 2021. Championed by Plant & Food Research, the programme is an investment in the future of science and horticulture and supports the organisation’s Māori strategy TONO and its goal to foster Māori talent, particularly rangatahi Māori (Māori youth).

“It’s very encouraging news to us and everyone who has worked towards making this happen despite the challenges brought by COVID-19,” Stacey Whitiora, Group GM Māori, Plant & Food Research, says. . . 

Millions of New Zealand flowers now sold on livestream auction platform:

Millions of dollars worth of New Zealand flowers are being traded using a virtual auction platform which has seen a surge in buyer usage since lockdown.

The digital platform is being credited with supporting the resilience of the local flower industry – providing continuity during raised alert levels and helping connect growers and retailers when attendance at physical marketplaces was not possible.

The locally designed online auction took more than three years to build and beta test – and now allows retail buyers to enter an auction remotely, review and purchase their flowers through live streaming cameras – a first for the New Zealand market.

Flowers auctions in New Zealand are based on a Dutch auction or ‘clock auction’ model where the price counts down in intervals from a reserve or starting value to a price where a buyer is willing to purchase. . . 

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership applauded by NZ Onion’s growers and exporters :

The country’s onion growers and exporters are welcoming the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

‘This agreement will ensure that New Zealand’s onion exports continue to grow. Without improved market access and reduced tariffs, it is extremely difficult for a small country like New Zealand to export to larger economies like Asia and Australia,’ says Onions New Zealand Chief Executive, James Kuperus.

‘The agreement will reduce complexity by developing a single set of trade rules across all markets within the agreement. It provides a process for addressing non-tariff barriers within clear timeframes.

‘Of immediate benefit is the expectation that customs authorities will release perishable goods within six hours of arrival. This will help ensure that our onions arrive in market in the best possible condition.’ . . 

Tantalise your tastebuds with tangy cheddar with caramelised onion:

The new, tasty Castello® Cheddar with Caramelised Onion, also known as Red Onion Cheddar, offers a rich and salty flavour, rounded with the addition of caramelised onions for a cheese that can stand on its own, be used as an ingredient or become the star of a cheese board.

Castello’s Red Onion Cheddar is tangy and sweet with a crumbly texture so is perfect for grating onto pizzas or flatbread for a wonderful, sweet onion boost. It complements grilled chicken or turkey burgers with its unique sharpness and delivers an incredible layer of flavour to your toasted sandwich.

You will find the new Castello® Red Onion Cheddar in the dairy case throughout Countdown stores nationwide and New World stores, North Island, RRP $8.00. . .


Rural round-up

17/11/2020

The wrong investment – Mike Chapman:

House prices across the country have risen nearly 20% to a median $725,000 in the past 12 months. At the same time, New Zealand’s Reserve Bank has announced a $28 billion programme aimed at forcing down borrowing costs and left the official cash rate at 0.25%.

Thankfully though, the Reserve Bank is concerned about the residential property market, with Governor Adrian Orr commenting that the Bank “has seen a marked acceleration in higher risk loans, particularly to investors in the property market”. As a result, the Reserve Bank is considering imposing loan to value ratio restrictions, in a bid to curb risky lending in the residential property market.

Simply put, investing in residential property will not aid New Zealand’s recovery from the current economic downturn. The housing market does not produce products that can be eaten or used by consumers. It does not create jobs, and it does not earn overseas return through exports. It is a wasted investment when what we should be investing in is New Zealand’s economic recovery.

This is, in my view, where the Reserve Bank’s focus should be: enabling significant investment in businesses that will drive our much-needed economic recovery and create jobs. . . 

Counting the toll of the Lake Ōhau fire: Native plants, predator traps went up in smoke – Tess Brunton:

A Lake Ōhau resident says thousands of dollars worth of native plants and 80 predator traps went up in smoke when the fire tore through the village earlier this month.

More than 5000 hectares and multiple properties were burnt in the blaze.

Before the fire, Lake Ōhau was surrounded by dryland with tussocks and shrubs, special plants that could survive the dry summers and bitterly cold winters. Beech forest grew down onto the lakeshore and along three creeks that drain the hills behind the village.

It was home to native birds, lizards and insects. . . 

 

Mission to empower, inspire women – Sally Rae:

When it comes to goals, Steph Matheson dreams pretty big.

Mrs Matheson (27) is on a mission: to make sure women feel they are not alone, that they are confident and comfortable “in their own skin” and that they feel as if they can do anything.

Through Project Steph 2.0, her personal blog, her overarching goal is to spread that message globally online.

It is not all unicorns and fairy dust; her content is realistic and raw as she talks about health, wellness, family and rural living in Gore. . .

Young auctioneer outbids to win coveted title – Annette Scott:

Andrew Sherratt was not just going for the bid, he was gunning for the title when he took up the gavel in the 2020 Young Auctioneer of the Year competition. He talked with Annette Scott.

When Andrew Sherratt was finishing up his studies at Lincoln University he wasn’t certain what career pathway he would take.

But with the prestigious New Zealand Stock and Station Agents’ Association (NZSSAA) Young Auctioneer trophy in hand, he is convinced he eventually made the right decision.

In one of the closest contests yet, Sherratt headed off the seven finalist contestants in the ninth annual 2020 Heartland Bank Young Auctioneer competition held at Canterbury Agricultural Park. . . 

Fruit and vegetable prices squashed in October:

Fruit and vegetable prices fell 5.6 percent in October 2020 as the local growing season picked up, Stats NZ said today.

Fruit and vegetable prices follow a very seasonal trend and typically fall in October, with the lowest prices for the year in summer.

“Warmer weather makes it easier to grow many crops, with higher supply making these products cheaper,” consumer prices manager Nicola Growden said. . . 

50,000 salmon smolt released into Lake Tekapo:

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon and Central South Island Fish & Game Council released 50,000 smolt into the crystal clear waters of Lake Tekapo last week.

The young salmon, which are about two years old, were raised at the nearby Mt Cook Alpine Salmon Ohau hatchery on the Ohau Canal. Last week’s release was part of the Fish & Game Council’s “put and take” programme in Lake Tekapo, developed over the past 10 years.

Fish and Game officer Rhys Adams says the release will “reinvigorate” the salmon fishery in the lake, but they will need time to grow to between two and four pounds.

The tanker load of smolt was taken to the outlet of Lake McGregor on the western shore of Lake Tekapo for release. . .


Rural round-up

15/11/2020

‘Frustration and desperation’ as harvest workers struggle to enter NZ – Bonnie Flaws:

Rural contractors and farmers are “beside themselves with frustration and desperation” at the log jam in managed isolation and quarantine facilities, despite 100 new rooms being made available on Monday.

Rural Contactors chief executive Roger Parton said in a statement that the industry was at crisis point trying to get sufficient labour into the country, after suffering a series of delays and setbacks already.

The Cabinet approved 210 border exemptions for rural contractors in September but many have not yet made it in.

Parton said that unless more managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities were made available urgently only one third of workers approved by the Cabinet would make itto New Zealand. . . 

Likely reduction in overseas travellers picking blueberries in Southland – Jamie Searle and Jo Mckenzie-Mclean:

A blueberry farm manager is hopeful he’ll get 100 workers needed to pick this summer’s crop but with borders being closed the usual tourists are scarce to hire.

Blueberry Country Southland general manager Simon Bardon said up to 100 extra staff could be needed during the six-week season, starting in early to mid-January, at the company’s farm near Otautau.

“We are facing challenges [to get workers] but every business in New Zealand is facing its own challenges.

“Covid-19 has made us all nervous, it’s changed the environment.” . . 

Challenges of new job ‘invigorating’ – Sally Rae:

Sirma Karapeeva began her new role as chief executive of the Meat Industry Association on April 9 this year — “slap bang in the middle of Covid”.

While the timing might have appeared a little unfortunate, there was no choice and she took it in her stride.

“To be honest, in crisis comes resilience and creativity and energy,” she said.

It was fortunate Ms Karapeeva had worked in the organisation for five years and knew its membership well. . . 

Genetic diagnosis life-changing – Yvonne O’Hara:

Allesha Ballard feels like her life is on hold as she waits for a date for surgery to have her stomach removed.

As she waits, life on a Southland dairy farm has become even more important.

The Dacre contract milker decided on the operation after she and her two siblings tested positive for the inherited cancer-causing gene CDH1.

She and her brother, Josh Ballard, and sister, Melissa Thompson, had watched a programme about singer Stan Walker, who had inherited the gene and later developed stomach cancer, then had his stomach removed.

Their father, Bryce Ballard, had died from stomach cancer nine years earlier. . . 

Applications open for 2021 Meat Industry Association scholarships:

Students considering a future career in New Zealand’s red meat sector are encouraged to apply for a Meat Industry Association Scholarship.

Six undergraduate scholarships providing $5,000 a year for each year of study and four post-graduate awards of $10,000 a year for each year of study are awarded to the successful applicants.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association, said the awards are aimed at scholars who are looking to contribute their skills to New Zealand’s largest manufacturing industry.

“Our scholarships provide a great pathway for undergraduate or graduate students into what is a productive, innovative and progressive sector. There are significant and exciting opportunities for young people.” . . 

Lambpro ram sale becomes highest grossing single vendor Australian stud sale -Lucy Kinbacher:

The Lambpro prime lamb brand cemented itself in the seedstock record books last week as the highest grossing single vendor beef or sheep studstock sale in the country.

In a year when the supply of sires has struggled to keep up with buyer demand, Holbrook’s Tom Bull and his team didn’t struggle to clear just over 1200 ram lambs across two days for an overall average of $3295 and gross of $3.977 million.

On Thursday 304 of 327 terminal and Lambpro Tradie rams sold to average $1459 before auctioneer Paul Dooley and Elders agent Ross Milne raced through 903 Primeline Maternal rams in four hours on Friday to average $3913 and top at $15,000 to Buckley Farms, Mt Gambier, South Australia.

Sometimes it took them just 40 to 50 seconds to sell individual lots. . . 


Rural round-up

03/11/2020

50 Shades of Green disappointed James Shaw retains Climate Change portfolio:

The conservation group 50 Shades of Green is disappointed that James Shaw has retained his climate change portfolio.

“While we have nothing against Mr Shaw personally, we believe the portfolio needs a fresh perspective,” 50 Shades of Green chair Any Scott said.

“We can’t keep doing what we’re doing and planting good farmland in trees while we extol the virtue of protecting and increasing our biodiversity.

“It’s nothing more than a feel-good factor and will achieve nothing positive. We’ll continue to pollute, and the climate will continue to get warmer. . . 

China has vowed to cut its reliance on foreign food imports. What could that mean for NZ agricultural exports? – James Fyfe:

With China vowing to cut its reliance on foreign food imports in the coming years, experts say while New Zealand exporters shouldn’t start worrying just yet, they should start thinking ahead and not put all their eggs in one basket.

Leaders from the world’s second-biggest economy met earlier this week to lay out a five-year plan for the country. Among the priorities identified was to have a “lower reliance on foreign suppliers for strategic products such as food, energy, semiconductors and other key technologies,” the Associated Press reported.

With China a massive buyer of New Zealand agricultural exports, more self-reliance could have a direct impact on farmers and growers here.

Trade expert Charles Finny, a former senior official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, says China is an “enormously important market” for New Zealand, twice the size of our next-largest market, Australia.  . . 

Alliance weathers the year’s many challenges – Sally Rae:

It is more important than ever for Alliance Group to invest in Southland in the wake of uncertainty over the future of Tiwai Point aluminium smelter, chief executive David Surveyor says.

The company was committed to Southland and it had spent significant money at its Lorneville plant, near Invercargill, in the last couple of years, Mr Surveyor said.

That included spending $12.5million to install the latest processing technology — including new generation primal cutters, middles and fores technology — a major engine room upgrade, and reconfiguration of its venison plant so it could also process beef . . 

New Zealand’s little-told Far North wild horses story :

In 2012 Kelly Wilson’s family saved 12 Kaimanawa horses from slaughter and then two years later they had their TV  show Keeping up with the Kaimanawas when they successfully tamed another 12.

Kelly appeared on the TV series with her sisters, Vicky and Amanda, and has also written four best-selling books about horses.

An adventurer who “loves anything to do with an adrenalin rush”, she enjoys ice climbing, scuba diving and snow boarding wherever she is in the world.

“But a lot of my time now is invested into wild horses and both photographing them in the wild and then taming them first-hand and then writing the books about them.”   . . 

Swings and roundabouts – in defence of animal source foods :

Back in 1994, 5 + A Day kicked off in a bid to increase New Zealanders intake of fruit and vegetables, as those working in health and nutrition understood the benefits to our nations’ health of increasing the intake of these foods. Zip to 2020, and it feels like the pendulum has swung completely in favour of plant-based foods and the messaging we’re receiving almost daily, including from non-nutrition experts, media and influencers advocate following a plant-based only diet. What has happened to balance? When did people start perceiving animal foods as being bad for our health? Why does it have to be either-or?

It seems the religion of old is out the door in favour of belonging and identifying with a food camp, whether it be vegan, plant-based whole food, carnivore, flexitarian, keto or paleo, and it seems there are some people who sit in judgement of those who don’t adhere to their food religion. However, the food agnostics amongst us don’t want to jump on this bandwagon, and quietly prefer to not put a label on it, and simply follow a balanced diet. 

Back in 1994, 5 + A Day kicked off in a bid to increase New Zealanders intake of fruit and vegetables, as those working in health and nutrition understood the benefits to our nations’ health of increasing the intake of these foods. Zip to 2020, and it feels like the pendulum has swung completely in favour of plant-based foods and the messaging we’re receiving almost daily, including from non-nutrition experts, media and influencers advocate following a plant-based only diet. What has happened to balance? When did people start perceiving animal foods as being bad for our health? Why does it have to be either-or? . . .

Mountain Blue Orchards grows from farm and nursery to a globally integrated business – Michelle Hespe:

With the NSW Farmer of the Year awards cancelled for 2020, The Land and The Farmer look back at the past decade of inspiring winners to see how they’ve adapted to current times, as well as what the competition has meant to them.

Ridley Bell of Mountain Blue Orchards is considered the grandfather of Australia’s blueberry industry.

By becoming the 2010 NSW Farmer of the Year he feels he was also put on the map for other farmers and for the horticulture industry in general.

“The awards opened up whole series of different networks and supports,” he says. . .


Rural round-up

30/10/2020

50 years of flower farming  – two families harness the power of sunflowers for bird food company – Emma Rawson:

Two Waitaki families farming in partnership for more than 50 years have developed a bird-loving business out of a crop sown on a wing and a prayer.

Riotous rows of yellow sunflowers beaming from fields south of Ōamaru are a shot of happiness in the Waitaki landscape. Sandwiched between crops of golden wheat and barley, the big friendly giants turn up the colour dial to a saturated yellow.

The exact location of the flowers, grown by the Mitchell and Webster families for more than 50 years, is usually kept on the low down.

Sometimes they are planted on Thousand Acre Road between Ōamaru and Kakanui, sometimes further inland towards Enfield. Crop rotation is the official reason; sunflowers need a five-year interval before being replanted in the same field since they are prone to fungal disease. However, transplanting the lots has the bonus of tricking the birds and keeping humans on their toes until the flowers hit their full two-metre height and yellowy glory at the end of January. . . 

Hawke’s Bay growers consider ‘every possible option’ to fill worker shortage – Thomas Airey:

Horticulture and viticulture growers are trying to be innovative and flexible in order to attract the employees they need to get through a worker shortage for the coming summer season.

There is an urgent need for local seasonal labour, with limited availability of overseas workers due to Covid-19 and 10,000 workers required to thin, pick, package and process the year’s crop between November and April.

The industry has joined up with the Ministry for Primary Industries, Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Hawke’s Bay District Health Board and the region’s local government leaders to deliver a plan to the Government next month to resolve the situation.

Part of that plan includes a growers’ employment expo and information session on Tuesday, November 10, through which they plan to showcase the summer work and career opportunities in the sector. . . 

One-size-fits all-model no more – Anthony Beverley:

New Zealand’s farmers are among the most efficient and productive in the world — and they need to be.

Our world is demanding high-quality, environmentally-friendly food. At the same time, regulatory costs continue to build; our weather is increasingly challenging to bank on and farm profitability and balance sheets are under pressure.

As a result, farmers are increasingly looking more closely at the economic contribution of each part of their farms. Not all land is the same; some parts of farms — if farmers are really honest about it — cost them money to farm.

It’s the steep, rough hill country out the back that farmers are taking a second look at. Not only is this land unprofitable, but it’s often difficult and dangerous to farm. This land is typically erosion-prone and topsoil run-off is undermining farmers’ broader environmental efforts. . . 

Award winner a hands-on business owner – Sally Rae:

Whether  about horses or lambs, alpacas or goats — Henrietta Purvis derives satisfaction from positive feedback from happy animal owners.

She and her husband Graeme Purvis operate Purvis Feeds from their Waianakarua property, south of Oamaru, selling lucerne chaff throughout New Zealand.

Very much a hands-on business owner who spends time both in the cutting shed and on the books, Mrs Purvis has been named the innovation category winner in this year’s NZI Rural Women New Zealand Business Awards . . 

Researchers find ‘sweet spot’ for kiwi fruit pollination

Upping the proportion of female flowers in a kiwifruit orchard may boost production, according to new research.

Plant and Food Research scientists and collaborators from the USA have compiled more than 30 years of field-based data from kiwifruit research to create “digital twins” of pollination processes in kiwifruit orchards, and have used these to predict how growers can optimise their fruit set.

Digital twins are virtual replicas of physical systems – in this case mathematical models of the biology of the plants and the behaviour of pollinating bees.

These digital twins gave researchers the ability to examine complex scenarios which examine multiple, intertwined factors at once. . . .

Brahmans from North Queensland are in demand from NSW graziers – Kent Ward:

Demand for larger lines of quality cattle has seen North Queensland become the go-to market for New South Wales graziers as they rebuild their herds.

The strong demand from southern restockers has not only provided competition at northern store sales, but also seen paddock deals culminate in thousands of cattle being trucked across the border in recent months.

Since March of this year, private agency firm Kennedy Rural has successfully sold and overseen the transport of in excess of 10,000 head of cattle into areas of NSW. . . 


Rural round-up

29/10/2020

Dairy industry short hundreds of staff

The dairy industry says despite a big push to try and attract locals, it is still hundreds of staff short this season.

Dairy NZ chief executive Tim Mackle said there were about 800 vacancies farmers were still looking to fill. The busy calving period had been challenging and exhausting for those who were unable to plug gaps, he said.

Mackle said a government-backed GoDairy course launched in May to attract and upskill locals did help, but like many in the primary sector, it had not seen as much demand for work as was expected.

“GoDairy was designed during the first Covid-19 lockdown in April when unemployment was expected to reach upwards of nine percent, if not higher, by late 2020. . . 

Is food too cheap? What makes up the price of your fruit and vegetables – Dr Helen Darling:

Warnings of an acute shortage of workers to harvest food crops in New Zealand are growing. But the problem – and potential solution – are more complex than they may seem, and give rise to the question: ‘Is food too cheap?’ Food Truth’s Dr Helen Darling considers the issues.

Spring brings hope on the orchard; trees burst to life with blossom signalling a good crop, however, the usual horticultural fears of frost, rain and hail have been joined this year by a significant shortfall of orchard workers.

The situation is not new, but it is usually addressed by the influx of seasonal workers from the Pacific Islands. This year is different, of course, because closed borders mean fewer workers are now available. Commentators (and there have been many) claim orchard workers are paid too little, and Kiwis are too lazy to do the work. The reality, however, is that it is not that simple and it raises the rather interesting question of who is responsible for our end-to-end food system? . . 

Helping the meat industry nurture female talent – Sally Rae:

When Ashley Gray was studying communications in Auckland, she dreamed of working for a large, “glossy” public relations agency.

The last thing on the self-described city girl’s mind was a job in the meat industry and yet, fast forward a few years, and she wears multiple “hats” within the sector.

Among those roles is chairwoman of the New Zealand chapter of Meat Business Women, a professional networking initiative founded in the United Kingdom by Laura Ryan in 2015.

The New Zealand meat sector and Meat Business Women recently signed an agreement aimed at boosting the number of women in the industry . . 

Growers employment expo in Hawke’s Bay

Hawke’s Bay growers are facing their most challenging season, with about 10,000 workers needed between November and April for thinning, picking, packing and processing the region’s world renowned produce.

COVID-19 has severely impacted the availability of overseas workers so the industry is looking for local heroes to help.

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst says we feed the country and the world with our produce and the industry needs everyone’s help in these unprecedented times.

“More than 8,000 local people are permanently employed in Hawke’s Bay in and around the horticulture and viticulture sectors, from pack-houses to the port. However these jobs are at risk if the fruit is not picked. . . 

Woolhandler wins two major titles at Waimate – Yvonne O’Hara:

Amber Poihipi is passionate about the wool industry and wool handling.

That passion contributed to her success when she won both the New Zealand Spring Championship and South Island Circuit senior woolhandling finals at Waimate.

Based in Winton, Ms Poihipi has been working for Shear Tech Ltd owners Ray Te Whata and Matt Watson for about a year.

She has been in the industry full-time for 14 years, and has worked throughout New Zealand and also spent six years in Australia, as well as several months in the United States, grading wool in a mobile woolshed.

“It was very different working out there in a trailer, and we graded into short, long, strong and coloured wools and we didn’t skirt,” she said. . . 

The farmers trying to  save the world and how you can help :

Farmers are using innovative methods, on their farms and further afield, to reduce their environmental impact. Some are creating products you may not know about, others are using techniques and technology designed to slash their carbon footprint. Just how far has environmentally friendly farming come, and what questions should you be asking about how your food is produced?

Slashing food waste

Fruit farmer Charlie Fermor has two main environmental focuses: to reduce food waste and find the most environmentally-friendly packaging for his farm. And he’s found ways to do both.

“We’ve always tried to be as efficient as possible on the farm, and reducing waste is probably the biggest part of that.” . . 


Rural round-up

23/10/2020

Farm profit 26% drop predicted – Sally Rae:

Average farm profit before tax on sheep and beef farms is predicted to fall 26% this season amid continued uncertainty due to Covid-19, Beef+Lamb New Zealand’s new season outlook says.

The report, released yesterday, sets the scene for a challenging year with declines predicted in both sheep meat and beef export receipts as the pandemic affects global economies, consumer demand and trading channels.

Lamb export receipts were forecast to drop by almost 15% and co-products to decline about 8% compared with the 2019-20 season. Beef and veal export revenue was predicted to decline by 9%.

The uncertainty in the export market would be reflected in farm-gate prices and subsequent farm profitability, B+LNZ’s chief economist Andrew Burtt said in a statement. . . 

Jobs warning over migrant worker rules – Sally Rae:

Jobs are in jeopardy in the meat processing and exporting sector unless the Government recognises the essential role of its skilled migrant workforce, the Meat Industry Association has warned.

About a third of the country’s 250 halal processing workers would have to leave New Zealand next year due to the Government’s one-year stand-down policy, MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said in statement.

The loss of those people, along with ‘‘hundreds of other essential meat workers’’, could result in reduced production and job losses in New Zealand’s largest manufacturing industry, Ms Karapeeva said.

“Most of the 42 halal processing plants in New Zealand now operate between 10-12 months per year. A shortage of skilled halal processing people could result in production at many plants being limited to six months in the year, which would mean processing of livestock for farmers is severely disrupted and employees might be let go. . . 

New woman at the helm of IrrigationNZ – Annette Scott:

Irrigation New Zealand is to be guided by a new chief executive in a new location and with a refreshed strategy. Annette Scott talked with Vanessa Winning about her new role.

FORMER DairyNZ farm performance manager Vanessa Winning is looking forward to leading New Zealand’s irrigation sector as it heads into a new era of management and renewed focus.

Winning has been appointed the new chief executive of IrrigationNZ, taking up the role in the organisation’s new Wellington base.

Following a review of the organisation’s activities the board, in July, put renewed focus on solving the tension between the fundamental need for irrigation in a post-covid NZ and the sector’s increasingly restricted license to operate. . . 

Campaign launched to help keep New Zealand Food and Beverage in hearts and minds of global consumers:

A global campaign designed to grow awareness, preference and demand for New Zealand Food and Beverage products in the key export markets of Australia, China, Japan, the USA and the UK has launched today.

The campaign, titled ‘Made with Care’, is being led by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and is part of a wider ‘Messages from New Zealand’ country brand campaign, which sees Tourism New Zealand (TNZ), NZTE, Ministry for Primary Industries, Education New Zealand and New Zealand Story join forces to promote New Zealand’s brand on the world stage.

New Zealand’s food and beverage industry is a key player in our economy, accounting for close to 46% of all goods and services exports in the past year. In 2018/2019, the industry had a combined revenue of $71.7 billion, with exports reaching more than 140 countries. . .

CBD lifts mānuka value higher – Richard Rennie:

If a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, then a snap-pack of Manuka honey may help you down a daily dose of CBD. Richard Renniespoke to Derek Burchell-Burger of Naki New Zealand about the company’s ground-breaking cannabidiol-infused honey nutraceutical.

For centuries cannabis and honey have been remedies used by assorted civilisations, and a Taranaki-based company is combining the two as a unique nutraceutical product.

“Indigenous cultures have been putting medicine in honey for generations, honey is a very good delivery system,” Naki New Zealand global marketing manager Derek Burchell-Burger said.

With Manuka honey’s popularity rising particularly over the covid pandemic, the company saw an opportunity for adding the therapeutic cannabidiol (CBD) to leverage off Manuka’s health and healing claims. . . 

 

Highly productive dairy farm and cropping operation placed on the market for sale:

A former market gardening operation now fully converted into a highly productive dairy farm and supporting cropping unit in the Eastern Bay of Plenty has been placed on the market for sale.

The 153.9-hectare property at Otakiri some 24-kilometres west of Whakatane milks a herd of between 410-430 cows to produce between 133,000-153,186 kilogrammes of milk solids annually, while also producing maize and silage for the herd.

The farm is made up of seven freehold land titles – all with a flat topography and linked by an extensive and high-quality network of crushed-lime races – with the maize and silage grown on a pair of 7.5-hectare blocks within the property. . . 


Rural round-up

13/10/2020

Vegetation grown on farms offsets agricultural emissions

Farmers are welcoming an independent study which has found New Zealand’s sheep and beef farms are already close to being carbon neutral.

The study, led by Dr Bradley Case at the Auckland University of Technology, estimated the woody vegetation on farms was offsetting between 63% and 118% of their on-farm agricultural emissions.

If the mid-point in the report’s range was used, on average the woody vegetation on sheep and beef farms was absorbing about 90% of these emissions.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor said absolute greenhouse gas emissions from New Zealand sheep and beef production have reduced by 30% since 1990.

“This research shows that of the remaining emissions, the vast majority are being offset by the trees on our farms and New Zealand sheep and beef farmers are well on the way to being carbon neutral by 2050. . . .

Oxford University researchers are pushing for a new method of measuring greenhouse gas emissions and their warming impact

Myles Allen, Ph.D., a professor of Geosystem Science and head of the Climate Dynamics Group at Oxford Martin, University of Oxford, has a beef with how the impact of methane emissions on global warming is wrongly calculated — and then misconstrued to blame livestock for climate change.

He and his Oxford Martin colleagues have proposed a new metric called GWP* (global warming potential – star), which focuses on the warming effects of the different gases, rather than their rate of emissions. The current mischaracterization of methane’s impact on warming, Allen told The Daily Churn, ignores the “white elephant” in the room — fossil fuel-based carbon dioxide emissions. This in turn could lead to misguided policies that inaccurately target animal agriculture.

“If we all turn vegetarian, but we don’t do anything about fossil fuel emissions, in five years we’ll be in exactly the same position we were before,” Allen says of rising global temperatures. But “we’re vegetarians.” . . .

Southland farmer makes finals – Sally Rae:

Helping people is a big part of what makes Bernadette Hunt “tick”.

Mrs Hunt, a Chatton farmer and vice-president of Southland Federated Farmers, is a finalist in the primary industry leadership award in this year’s Primary Industries New Zealand awards which will be announced at a function in Wellington on November 23.

Balancing farming, family — she and her husband Alistair have two primary school-aged daughters — and rural advocacy was a “real juggle” and there were certainly times when the balance was not right.

However, she was a firm believer in volunteering — “that’s what makes communities tick” — and also role modelling that to her own children. . . .

Title ton: shearer celebrates milestone :

A South Canterbury farmer has become the first person in the world to win 100 blade-shearing finals. 

Tony Dobbs won the open blades title at the Waimate Shears Spring Championships last night, a competition he first competed at in 1979.

Dobbs won the title by shearing four sheep in 14 minutes and 48 seconds.

He beat the reigning individual world champion Allan Oldfield, who is also from South Canterbury. . . 

Feet first :

Draining abscesses on cows hoofs may be a mucky job but Johan Buys loves it.

“When I get rid of that I can get rid of the pain,” he says.

Johan is known as ‘The Hoofman’ and spends his days tending cows’ hoofs, curing lameness.

He says it’s hugely satisfying watching a cow that limped in for treatment, leave for the paddock pain-free. . . 

Wairarapa sweeps 2020 Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards, 2020 best year yet:

Wairarapa Olive Oil makers have swept the annual NZ Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards, winning four of the five major awards for Olive Oil Excellence, with the region’s growers also taking home 58 medals.

Beginning in 2020, the New Zealand Olive Oil Awards recognise excellence in NZ Extra Virgin Olive Oils (NZ EVOO). This year’s winners were announced tonight at the Olives NZ 2020 Award Ceremony.

Four Wairarapa Olive Growers received top awards: . . 


Rural round-up

02/10/2020

Freshwater rules take toll on confidence – Sally Rae:

Southern sheep and beef farmers have experienced their worst fall in confidence in a recent survey by Beef+Lamb New Zealand, as the Government’s freshwater rules are cited as a major factor.

Nationally, confidence dropped to the lowest recorded level since August 2017 with less than half — or 46% of farmers — confident in the future of New Zealand’s sheep and beef industry compared to 58% in May.

Farmer confidence was down in all regions, except for the northern North Island, and the largest fall was in the southern South Island at 32% (down 27%), followed by the central South Island at 42% (down 19%).

In a statement, B+LNZ chairman Andrew Morrison, a Southland farmer, said sheep and beef farmers were increasingly concerned at the speed and scale of government-led reforms. . . 

26 million national flock down 2.3% – Sally Rae:

Sheep numbers in New Zealand have dropped 2.3% over the past year to 26.21million — a far cry from the 57.85million recorded in 1990.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s annual stock number survey estimated this spring’s lamb crop would be 4.2% lower — or 980,000 head down — compared with spring 2019, while adverse weather events could lessen that further.

Ewe condition during mating was poor to average due to lower overall feed availability while ewe pregnancy scanning results were 5%-10% lower due to dry conditions and feed shortages. Fewer ewe hoggets were also mated.

In a statement, B+LNZ Economic Service chief economist Andrew Burtt said drought meant farmers decided to have fewer hoggets, weaner cattle and cows mated which would have impacts on future stock numbers. . . 

Fruit picker shortage reaches new levels :

With closed borders and no backpackers or casual labour coming in, the fruit picking industry desperately needs more workers than ever before.

Today The Detail looks at why it’s so hard to fill the gaps and whether robots are the answer to the labour shortage for what even employers admit is a “shit” job.

Horticulture is a $10b industry and is one that will continue to grow despite covid-19.

But the lack of workers has been something that has plagued the sector for years, even before the pandemic. . . 

Work experience helps fresh talent into dairying

Gillian Saich from Invercargill is new to dairy farming and was thrilled when a dairy farmer offered her work experience on his farm.

Gillian recently finished DairyNZ’s GoDairy Farm Ready Training, designed to give Kiwis throughout New Zealand entry level training to work on dairy farms.

After the training, dairy farmer Edwin Mabonga from Otautau offered Gillian two weeks’ work experience and she jumped at the chance.

“It’s been brilliant to get hands-on experience. I have learned so much and have been involved in lots of aspects on the farm, including calving and milking,” she says.  . .

NZ cheese sales a lockdown silver lining:

Everywhere, everyone agrees that 2020 has been one of the most challenging years. For many NZ cheesemakers that has meant quickly adapting and finding new markets as farmers’ markets, some specialty retail food stores, cafes and restaurants closed during lockdown.

However there is a silver lining, while New Zealanders hunkered down staying safe they used their free time to explore and support NZ made produce, including New Zealand cheese, which is enjoying record sales.

According to Nielsen Scantrack[1] – a record of supermarket sales for the year to 9 August 2020 – total value for all cheese sales is up by 12.2% for the 12 months. Among these numbers is a strong increase for speciality cheese – up in value by 9.5%. Always a favourite with families, blocks of cheese are up 14.5% in value and grated cheese sales were up a whopping 25.1%. . . 

Silver Fern Farms awards additional scholarship in light of Covid crisis:

Silver Fern Farms has announced their Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships recipients for 2020, adding two additional scholarships this year, on top of the six normally offered, to strengthen their support for the industry through the challenges presented by Covid-19.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says the commitment Silver Fern Farms has to developing young people and their careers has become even more important as the red meat industry responds to disruption around the world.

Over 60 people applied for this year’s scholarships. “They were asked to identify outstanding opportunities for the red meat industry in light of the Covid-19 crisis and to share the role they could play in New Zealand’s recovery. . . 


Rural round-up

12/09/2020

New freshwater rules ‘terrible’ for West Coast – regional chair – Lois Williams:

More resource consents, more monitoring, more money and more staff – the government’s new rules for managing freshwater will cost the West Coast big-time, according to regional council chairman Allan Birchfield.

The final policies and regulations on freshwater came into force last week and regional councils around the country now have to enforce them.

Among them, the new wetland rules posed the biggest headache and expense for the West Coast, Birchfield said.

The West Coast Regional Council had spent more than 10 years mapping and defining significant wetlands throughout the region, as required by the government under the Resource Management Act. . . 

Winding up a long career championing New Zealand – Sally Rae:

When Lyn Jaffray walks out the door of Silver Fern Farms’ headquarters in Dunedin tomorrow, it will be the end of an era, as business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

Lyn Jaffray is preparing to close his last deal with Silver Fern Farms.

When he retires tomorrow, it will mark a 48-year association with the company which has included more than 20 years managing its China market.

The former All Black’s departure follows a discussion about succession and a year-long transition period, and he was happy with the timing of it.

“I’m comfortable where we are, the company’s going great, I’m comfortable with closing the deal,” he said. . . 

Demand for merino wool drops 40% – Maja Burry:

Demand for Merino wool has taken a hit, with fine wool prices at auction back by about 40 percent on this time last year.

Merino sheep are typically shorn between July and October. The main selling period for this wool runs from August through to early December.

Crossbred wool, typically used in carpets, makes up about 85 percent of New Zealand’s wool clip. Fine wools such as Merino attract a premium price and are often used in high end garments including sportswear and suits.

AgriHQ said at auction fine wool in the 17-18 micron range was fetching $13 to $15 a kilogram clean, down 35 to 40 percent on last year. . . 

US pandemic crisis stalls delivery of quad bikes for NZ farmers– Eric Frykberg:

Covid-19 has hit the farming community in an unexpected way: it is drying up the supply of farm vehicles such as quad bikes.

That is because factories that assemble them in the United States have had their production disrupted by the virus April.

Even where a factory has continued assembling the vehicles, vital spare parts have often been held up when the coronavirus has hit outsourced supply companies, meaning the final product cannot be completed because one vital component is missing.

“Sometimes, we are a month behind waiting for the stock to come in,” said dealer Blair Howden of Winton Motorcycles in Southland. . . 

Green vegetables grow at the foot of big mountains – Keith Woodford:

Green vegetables and hydroponics combine nicely when consumers are close but productive land is scarce

Green vegetables are best produced close to where people live.  But nature often needs a little help to make it happen.  That is where glasshouses and hydroponics come into play.  It is a combination that allows green vegetables to be grown throughout the year in most parts of New Zealand while still being aligned to nature.

Some of my readers will know that I am a fan for the mountains of the Otago Lakes District.  Also, for more than 50 years I have been a skier, becoming even more enthusiastic as the years go by, with skiing now providing both joy and adrenaline for a retired mountaineer. . . 

Rural Insight: NZ trial to crunch regen numbers:

Regenerative agriculture has become something of a buzzword in farming and food circles over the past year, and the subject of well populated field days, chat groups and media coverage.

As a practice, “regenerative” agriculture covers a broad sweep of land use practices, with a focus on regenerating topsoil while also improving water quality, building plant biodiversity on-farm and reducing the level of cultivation and tillage.

For its part, New Zealand is beginning to play catch up on acquiring data on its own regenerative experience.

In Canterbury, the Align Group of farms with four dairy units over 1,500ha has committed to a regenerative trial, effectively splitting the operation into conventional and regenerative across two dairy farms. . . 

 


Rural round-up

11/09/2020

Farming on a senseless slippery slope:

A recent decision to extend 5.8 million hectares of land designated as ‘low slope’ to 9.6 million hectares is causing trouble for affected farmers.

The controversial map deeming 9.6 million hectares of NZ’s pastoral land as ‘low slope’ with specific stock exclusion zones has been described by North Otago farmer and sustainability advocate Jane Smith as “not fit for human consumption” let alone being stamped as regulation.

“Some bureaucrat has managed to change the topography of New Zealand – with the area defined as ‘low slope’ – growing from 5.8 million hectares in 2019 to 9.6 million hectares overnight with a simple stroke of a pen,” Jane Smith says.

She has no doubt this will be the ruling that breaks farmers’ backs. . .

Dairy industry proves durable under Covid-19 – NZIER report – Eric Frykberg:

Dairy sales have gained strength despite the pandemic but the industry could be undermined by government policy, an NZIER report says.

The report, written by the economic consultancy’s principal economist Chris Nixon, said the industry had brushed aside Covid-19 – earning more money, not less – and had defences against a movement towards trade protectionism and dairy substitutes such as almond milk.

It said the dairy industry had proven itself to be a durable part of the New Zealand economy and this would continue for the foreseeable future, but it needed careful attention from the government to maintain confidence.

Nixon said while many primary sectors rose modestly during Covid-19, or fell, dairy sales were strong. . . 

Out there living life and going places – Sally Rae:

Nine years ago, Anita Kendrick’s life was thrown upside down when she broke her back in a quad-bike accident while mustering sheep. Facing life in a wheelchair, she did not let her disability deter her from continuing her career in farming. Sally Rae reports.

Anita Kendrick is on the hunt for a job in the South Island.

The 27-year-old King Country shepherd said she had been keen for a long time to move south but, until now, had not had the confidence to do so. But that was now instilled and she was ready for a change.

Armed with her team of working dogs, she did not have the ideal job in mind — nor an area — although she was keen to work with sheep more than cattle, as they were more “user friendly”. She was also interested in getting involved in the stud aspect of breeding. . . 

Feds relieved wilding pine control efforts to ramp up:

Federated Farmers is relieved to see the government put more muscle today behind a nationwide plan to tackle more than 800,000 hectares of wilding pine infestations.

Last week’s massive fire in the Mackenzie Basin burnt an area of 2,000 hectares, mostly the pest ‘wilding’ pine trees and scrub.

Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare went to the Mackenzie District last week to survey the fire damage near Lake Pukaki, the spread of which has in part been attributed to the wilding pines. . .

East-West divide dictates meat returns :

An East-West Covid split is dictating global meat returns for New Zealand farmers.

Countries like China, Taiwan and Japan, which acted early and implemented successful lockdowns, now find their economies on a firmer footing.

This is reflecting on receipts for NZ meat exports to these countries, says Westpac senior agri economist Nathan Penny.

A resurging Chinese economy bodes well for lamb and mutton demand as the country accounts for a large share of New Zealand’s exports. . .

 

Innovative technology protects crops, farmers and our future – Balwinder Singh Kang:

The swarm of locusts was so large, it blackened the sky in the middle of the day.

If we hadn’t known that this plague of pests was coming to attack our farms, we might have thought it was a massive dust storm or an eclipse of the sun.

Because we knew the locusts were on the move, we were ready for them. As they descended on our crops, our entire village came out to defend our fields. This was a struggle for survival-and the lesson we learned is that farmers like us need the best technologies to defeat this threat to our way of life. . . 


Rural round-up

08/09/2020

Much of the plan is not common sense’ – Yvonne O’Hara:

Matakanui Station owner Andrew Paterson estimates it will cost him about $1.6 million to comply with the new freshwater rules for fencing off waterways on his Central Otago hill country property.

He will also have to take about 47ha out of use to follow the 5m buffer rule.

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 sets out new objectives and policies for farming including waterways, nutrient losses and winter grazing and the rules come into effect tomorrow.

He agrees with Federated Farmers Southland president Geoffrey Young that some of the rules are unworkable and supports Mr Young’s recent call for a boycott of the new rules. . . 

Revelations in the cow shed – Peter Burke:

Mental health and connectivity are two of the main issues affecting dairy farmers in this country according to a survey by DairyNZ.

The so called ‘cow shed’ survey shows that 62% of farmers say that they or someone on their farm had experienced mental health issues over the last year.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says he was “quite surprised” at how high this number was.

“I think the stresses that came out in the survey were drought, with two thirds of those surveyed saying they had been affected by drought in the last little while,” he told Dairy News.

Winding up a long career championing New Zealand – Sally Rae:

When Lyn Jaffray walks out the door of Silver Fern Farms’ headquarters in Dunedin tomorrow, it will be the end of an era, as business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

Lyn Jaffray is preparing to close his last deal with Silver Fern Farms.

When he retires tomorrow, it will mark a 48-year association with the company which has included more than 20 years managing its China market.

The former All Black’s departure follows a discussion about succession and a year-long transition period, and he was happy with the timing of it.

“I’m comfortable where we are, the company’s going great, I’m comfortable with closing the deal,” he said. . . 

Doc’s revised 2020/21 tahr management plan is ideology hidden in a glossy brochure:

The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association believes the Department of Conservation’s revised tahr control operational plan released yesterday shows that culling the Himalayan tahr herd as now planned is based on ideology, political interference, a lack of quality data and science, and made to appease the extreme views of Forest & Bird who continue to maintain their threat of bad faith court action.

Deerstalkers Association Chief Executive Gwyn Thurlow says the decision defies good sense and logic and is another example of a string of poor decisions made by this Government.

Gwyn Thurlow says “After reviewing the latest iteration of the plan, we can see no substantive change to the Department’s approach from before the High Court win by the Tahr Foundation because the bottom line is the number of operational hours has not reduced. This means our tahr herd will be decimated, as feared. . . 

$4.7 million in funding for SVSS from MPI:

A project to boost vegetable growers’ efforts to care for the health of the environment while supplying fresh, healthy food, has received $4.7 million in government backing from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

The funding adds to the $2.8 million already invested by industry into Sustainable Vegetable Systems, a four-year project, focused on improving crop nutrient management for the growing of potatoes, onions, brassicas, butternut squash, carrots, and leafy greens.
MPI is investing in the project from the Productive and Sustainable Land Usepackage, which promotes farming and growing practices that deliver more value and improved environmental outcomes. . . 

Campaign to boost British venison amid fall in demend :

An innovative working group has been created across England and Wales to reignite the venison market following a drop in demand due to Covid-19.

The group will focus on strengthening existing markets and opening new channels to counter competition provided by imports and slashed demand.

The Wild Venison Working Group is chaired by the Forestry Commission and has representation from stakeholders in woodland management, shooting, gamekeeping, and venison supply sectors.

In the absence of natural predators, the deer population in the United Kingdom is at its highest level for the last 1,000 years. . . 


Rural round-up

03/09/2020

A classic example of the disconnect from farming:

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

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

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

Freshwater regs will stall progress add costs on Canterbury:

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

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

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

Land girls kept farms running – Sally Rae:

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

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

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

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

Wagyu calves pricey but worth it – Annette Scott:

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

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

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

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

PWC, WONZ to merge – Annette Scott:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

28/08/2020

Wool boom from footrot research – Sally Rae:

The development of a commercialised breeding value for footrot resistance represents a “huge opportunity” for the expansion of fine wool sheep production, the New Zealand Merino Company says.

While “not a silver bullet” against the disease which results in lameness and loss of production, it would allow growers to make genetic gains and establish flocks that were footrot resistant, NZM chief executive John Brakenridge said.

Growers would save money from reduced treatment costs and chemical inputs, would not be hit with lower production, all while improving animal welfare.

It was the result of work by the New Zealand Sheep Transformation Project, co-funded by NZM and the Ministry for Primary Industries with a contribution from Merino Inc, to look at ways to contribute to a more productive, profitable and high animal welfare future for fine wool. . . 

From Devine intervention to total faith, highland calf birth adds new blood to line – Laurel Ketel:

Two years ago, Devine, a highland cow living at Plum Tree farm in Glenhope, couldn’t walk.

She had fallen down a bank and with her leg caught in wire fencing, the circulation to her foot was cut off causing severe damage. The rehabilitation costs were huge but owners Lisa and Mal Grennell were determined she wouldn’t be put down.

They worked around the clock for weeks, hoisting her every few hours and after four weeks she was finally able to walk unaided but it took a further six months for her to recover fully.

Last week Devine gave birth to a healthy calf and with the birth came not only new life but the introduction of a new bloodline into New Zealand highland cattle. . . 

Beef + Lamb NZ joins call for new national nutrition surveys:

As World Iron Awareness Week kicks off today, Beef + Lamb New Zealand are joining the growing number of calls for the government to conduct new national nutrition surveys, with the most recent in 2008 for adults, and 2002 for children. 

Iron deficiency is the world’s most prevalent nutrient deficiency with two billion sufferers globally. It greatly impacts young children and women, with symptoms often being mistaken for the impacts of a busy life (tiredness, feeling grumpy, lack of focus). This hidden hunger is impacting a growing number of Kiwis, but the true scale is virtually impossible to quantify.  

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Head of Nutrition Fiona Windle points out that such a large data gap leaves a lot to be desired when trying to tackle the impacts of low iron levels among other nutrient deficiencies.  . .  

Prospectors out in force as gold prices reach fever pitch – Tracy Neal:

Since retiring last year as the Grey District’s long-serving mayor, Tony Kokshoorn says he has been good as gold – he just wishes he had joined the recent rush on prospecting for it.

“I generally nowadays invest in sharemarkets and that type of thing, but I wish now I’d taken up the gold-panning and gone out there because it’s a far better payer at the moment, with the gold price going through the roof and the share price of most companies really in the doldrums.”

Record high gold prices have prompted hobby prospectors to dust off spades and pans and head to South Island rivers in the hope of striking it lucky.

The precious metal recently hit $NZ3000 an ounce, as global investors looked to safer bets in shaky economic times. . . 

Comvita posts reduced annual loss :

The honey manufacturer and exporter Comvita has posted a reduced annual loss as it restructures and looks to capitalise on a lift in sales.

The company’s loss for the year ended June was $9.7 million, most of it caused by restructuring costs, compared with a loss of $27.7m a year ago, which had writedowns in asset values.

However, a second half year revival, as Comvita moved to slim and simplify its business and increase margins, resulted in a profit but not enough to overturn a first half loss. . . 

Validation of agriculture as an essential and sustainable industry – Roberto A. Peiretti:

Did you know that our most basic foods could be totally consumed around the world in just a few months?

This is why governments everywhere have labeled agriculture an “essential” activity during the Covid-19 crisis.

It was gratifying to see this appreciation during the social and economic lockdowns because farmers are often overlooked or even abused.

I hope the awareness of what farmers do continues after we recover from the pandemic.

Over the last several months, we’ve learned to live without a lot of the things that we once took for granted, such as sports, dining in restaurants, and going to church. The rules have varied from country to country, but we’ve all learned to cope with new restrictions so that we can prevent the transmission of a dangerous disease. . . 


Rural round-up

25/08/2020

Group to prioritise staff shortages – Yvonne O’Hara:

Addressing the shortage of primary sector staff in Southland will be one of the key roles for the new Southern Primary Sector Workforce Action Group (SPSWAG) co-ordinator.

The job will include matching jobseekers with employers in addition to establishing a regionally focused database of jobs and implementing a pastoral support programme.

Federated Farmers’ Southland provincial vice-president Bernadette Hunt said the group, which was launched in June last year, had received several “very good quality applications” for the one-year-contract position and they were now deciding on a shortlist of applicants to interview. . . 

Covid 19 coronavirus: Sir David Fagan on how the pandemic is affecting Kiwi shearers – Matthew Mckew:

Covid-19 restrictions mean there’s no shortage of shearers at the moment, but Sir David Fagan sees trouble ahead for the industry.

The reason there were plenty of Kiwi shearers about right now was that they can’t travel anywhere, the world champion told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

“We’re not getting New Zealanders going back to Australia for the season. So they’re here now shearing. I guess the winter time shearing’s pretty good for the workforce.” . . 

Dairy Trainee of the Year takes the reins on Fairlie farm :

Even though Nicola Blowey’s parents sold their dairy farm in Devon just before she was born, farming has remained in her veins. After studying agriculture in the UK she came to South Canterbury to work on a dairy farm.

It was meant to be for 12 months but four years on she’s still here and rising up the industry ranks. Last year the 26-year-old won the Dairy Trainee of the Year title in the NZ Dairy Industry Awards. She then took up a farm manager position on one of Kieran and Leonie Guiney’s dairy farms near Fairlie.

Nicola now has three staff and a large herd of KiwiCross cows to look after. She’s loving the increased responsibility. . . 

 Velvet trumps venison – Sally Rae:

It is a tale of two halves in the deer industry as venison schedule prices drop to their lowest level in more than a decade while consumer demand for velvet remains robust.

ANZ’s latest Agri Focus report said venison markets were “extremely challenging”; venison was highly exposed to the European restaurant trade and the industry was scrambling to move more products into the retail space to reduce reliance on the food service sector.

Farmgate prices for deer might have “ticked up a tad” recently but prices had not been at such low levels for more than a decade.

“It is a real blow for an industry that was doing so well and had appeared to have moved away from the volatile cycles of boom and bust that have long plagued the industry,” the report said. . . 

Why Synlait has nothing to fear from a2 Milk’s foray into infant formula – Jamie Gray:

A2 Milk will soon try its hand at infant formula making if it is successful in buying the debt-laden Mataura Valley Milk, but its supplier – Synlait Milk – has nothing to fear.

The dual-listed a2 Milk is in talks to buy three-quarters of the China-owned Mataura Valley Milk in Southland for $270 million.

A2 Milk has made a non-binding indicative offer to acquire a 75.1 per cent interest in Mataura Valley, based on an enterprise value of about $385m. . . 

Vegans urged to switch to cow milk instead of soya to save the planet – Rob Waugh:

Vegans should avoid soya milk if they want to save the planet, and even consider drinking cows’ milk instead, a sustainability charity has said.

The Sustainable Food Trust said that soya beans are associated with rainforest destruction, and that soya meal is also used in animal food, but that the amounts required to create soya milk meant that cow’s milk is healthier for the planet.

Researchers from the Sustainable Food Trust and the University of Nottingham calculated the amounts of soya used in both soya milk and cows’ milk in a new review of evidence.

The charity wrote: “Vegans and others who buy milk substitutes made from soya are also harming the planet. . .


Rural round-up

24/08/2020

Family first for these high flyers – Ashley Smyth:

Topflite tends to fly under the radar when people think of Oamaru businesses, but for this family-owned success story, things are quietly taking off. Ashley Smyth reports.

While being Oamaru-based can present its challenges, these are far outweighed by the benefits the small-town lifestyle offers, Topflite general manager Greg Webster says.

“The fact we’re close to where the product is grown is a big one. Also, being a family business, family is always something we’ve put importance on.

“We want people to have a life outside of work. Living in Oamaru allows that – your staff don’t have an hour commute.”

The company, perhaps most famous locally for its striking sunflower crops, was founded by Greg’s father Jock Webster and Jock’s brothers-in-law Ross and Bruce Mitchell, in the 1970s. . . 

Minister missing in action:

The Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor has taken a staggering 10 days during the Auckland level 3 lockdown to grant a blanket exemptions for sheep and beef farmers, National’s Agriculture spokesperson David Bennett says.

“The previous lockdown allowed farmers to continue operations and travel between properties as essential workers, the current lockdown has imposed stricter requirements of needing a Ministry of Health exemption.

“The delays and confusion are a direct result of the Government’s lack of planning for an outbreak.

“Minister O’Connor has failed to see that this would require further compliance from farmers. It was only after heavy pressure from various sectors that saw exemptions for diary, horticulture and poultry. . . 

New rules go ‘too far’ – farmer – Sally Rae:

“Farming’s a tough game but they are hellbent on making it tougher.”

West Otago dairy farmer Bruce Eade is concerned about the Government’s new freshwater regulations which start coming into force from September 3, saying many of the rules concerning winter cropping and grazing were “almost unfarmable” in the South.

The Eade family are longtime dairy farmers and converted their Kelso property 25 years ago. They milk about 550 cows, have a free-stall barn and also winter beef cattle on crop.

“We’re lifers, you could say. We do it for the cows is the biggest thing for us. If I didn’t love my cows, I wouldn’t be doing it. There’s far easier ways to make a living,” Mr Eade said. . . 

Scramble over new freshwater rules – Colin Williscroft:

Regional councils and industry good groups are scrambling under a tight timeframe to get to grips with how new freshwater regulations will be implemented and what its impact on farmers is likely to be.

The new Essential Freshwater rules became law earlier this month and in the past couple of weeks councils and groups including Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) and DairyNZ have been studying the detail of the regulations so they and the people they represent are as prepared as possible for changes when they come into effect.

Some of those changes come into effect next month, while others will be rolled out over the next few years. . . 

Wool handler keeping work local – Mary-Jo Tohill:

It’s a perfect early spring-like day in the Ida Valley in Central Otago.

Merinos bleat in the yards, and the shearing machines buzz inside the woolshed as the crew gets to work.

Southland-based world-class woolhandler Tina Elers quickly finds her rhythm as the fleece hits the table.

This time of year, she’s chasing the work as well as thinking about upcoming competition as a woolhandler.

“Do I treat the fleece any differently? No. What I do every day in the shed as a wool classer is practice for competition.”

Both come down to quality and speed. . . 

Expensive Geraldine-produced Wagyu beef being auctioned for charity– Samesh Mohanlall:

A South Canterbury farm has produced one of the biggest rare Wagyu steers ever seen in New Zealand.

Evan and Clare Chapman of Rockburn Farming near Geraldine have been raising Wagyu (a term referring to all Japanese beef cattle), which is renowned for its sought after marbled meat and costs hundreds of dollars for a simple steak since 2017.

Last week a 946 kilogram Wagyu steer from the farm was processed by First Light, the New Zealand farming co-operative the Chapman’s belong to.

“This isn’t a one-off,” the co-op’s managing director Gerard Hickey said. . . 

Using data in Nigeria to reduce violence and build food security – Rotimi Williams:

Farming should be safe, but in Nigeria it can be deadly.

It’s so dangerous, in fact, that a report released on June 15 by an all-party parliamentary group in the United Kingdom asks a provocative question in its title: “Nigeria: Unfolding Genocide?

Thousands of Nigerian farmers are murdered each year, according to human-right groups such as Amnesty International-and all we want to do is protect our land so that we can grow the crops our families need and our country requires.

As a rice farmer in Nigeria, I’ve seen this problem up close-and I’m trying to solve it with technology. . . 


Rural round-up

21/08/2020

Coronavirus: Millions of bees starve to death as beekeepers held up at COVID-19 checkpoints – James Fyfe:

Millions of bees have starved to death after COVID-19 checkpoints in and out of Auckland caused a delay in beekeepers accessing their hives.

Wetex Kang of Waitakaruru Honey Limited says around 2.5 million bees died after workers were unable to travel from Waikato to Auckland to feed the bees.

Kang, who is based in Auckland, says many of his business’ 2000 beehives are scattered across the North Island, as are the staff who care for them. . . 

Women’s farm training winner – Sally Rae:

A farm training institute with a difference is opening its gates in Northern Southland next year. Business and rural editor Sally Rae finds out more.

When Covid-19 claimed the clientele of her agri-tourism venture near Kingston, Laura Douglas spent a couple of days crying inconsolably.

Still on a high from taking her farm animals to Wanaka A&P Show for a display, she received a phone call from international bus company Contiki two days later, cancelling its visits.

Those tours came through Real Country every month – every week in summer – and represented about 65% of her revenue. Corporate groups also cancelled as the country went into lockdown. . . 

Armadillo Merino aims for the moon – Neal Wallace:

Merino wool has long been praised for its versatility, but Andy Caughey tells Neal Wallace how he is taking use of this miracle fibre to a whole new level.

THE qualities of New Zealand Merino wool clothing are being tested in some of the planet’s most hostile and extreme workplaces and environments – and beyond.

Otago-raised Andy Caughey has for the past nine years been developing and promoting next-to skin Merino wool clothing and socks under his brand Armadillo Merino.

Armadillo clothing is now being considered for astronauts involved in NASA’s 2024 expedition to the moon. . . 

Arable sector must determine its future – Annette Scott:

The next five years will be crunch time for the arable sector that can choose to stand up and shine or remain under the radar and let the larger primary sectors direct New Zealand’s agri-economic development, Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) chief executive Alison Stewart says.

For many years the arable sector has been viewed as the invisible partner of NZ agriculture, given the arable industry’s predominantly domestic, commodity market focus and the fact that it has chosen to fly under the radar on most of the major policy issues affecting NZ’s economic, environmental and social development, Stewart says.

“However, I believe the invisible partner image is slowly changing and could change even more if the entire sector worked together to make it happen,” she said. . . 

Pāmu announces new GM sustainability and farming systems:

Pāmu has appointed Lisa Martin to the executive leadership team in the newly created role of General Manager, Sustainability and Farming Systems.

Ms Martin has extensive experience improving the sustainability practices of the organisations she has worked with, including seafood company Sanford where she was GM of Group Sustainability and at Downer Group where she was GM of Environment and Sustainability. She also co-founded a successful sustainability consultancy, Sustainz which provides sustainability advice to a range of organisations including New Zealand’s agricultural sector.

In her earlier career Ms Martin worked in the environmental science field in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom. . .

Sugar price rebound sweetens La Niña risk – Shan goodwin:

REBOUNDING global sugar prices are putting a spring in the step of Queensland cane growers who have been hampered by wet weather hold-ups since the crush started in early June.

Raw sugar traded in New York on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the global benchmark, broke through the US13 cents per pound barrier last week for the first time since March.

Analysts say that has been on the back of easing lockdown restrictions, the resumption of food service, strong demand from Asia where drought has hit local crops and speculative moves by funds shifting to a bullish outlook for sugar. . . 


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