Rural round-up

September 14, 2016

Success outside of big cities:

We asked some of New Zealand’s leading business people about their bravest moment in business. In the sixth story of our series for Spark, Whitestone Cheese CEO Simon Berry.

“Bravest moment? I reckon moving from Vancouver to Oamaru!”

Simon Berry, CEO of Oamaru’s Whitestone Cheese, comes from a long line of Otago farmers.

When the 1980s arrived so did the rural downturn. Noticing the tide was about to turn, Simon’s father Bob made the bold decision to forego beef and sheep for cheese.

“Dad was always good at reading markets,” says Simon. “‘In those days, the only cheese you could find in Kiwi supermarkets was the 1kg block. So my parents would visit their neighbours in Karitane who ran a small business called Evansdale Cheese.”

“Everyone raved about their green, mouldy farmhouse cheese!” . . 

Lessons from Australian dairy – Keith Woodford:

Our Australian dairy cousins are currently going through difficult times, particularly for those who supply Murray Goulburn, and to a lesser extent Fonterra.  There are lessons to be learned, although there may be alternative perspectives as to the specifics thereof.

Right now, production in Australia has plummeted. It will take a month or two to see how it all settles out, but early season production is down 10 percent.  Fonterra’s production is down 22 percent, and Murray Goulburn is in all likelihood down even more. Indeed, there have to be doubts as to whether Murray Goulburn can survive long-term in its current form.

Once the spring-calving cows come on-stream, the figures may look less dramatic, but both Murray Goulburn and Fonterra have clearly lost substantial market share. . . 

Vehicle review ‘great’ – Sally Rae:

It’s out with the old and in with the new with vehicles on Landcorp-owned farms.

Keeping people safe was the driver behind a review of vehicle safety by New Zealand’s largest corporate farming operation.

The review established a set few vehicles to be used on the basis of what worked for particular farms and terrain.

It was decided to remove all quad bikes on Landcorp’s dairy farms and reduce the number of quad bikes on livestock farms. . . 

Beef producers cautioned to look beyond the price peak:

New Zealand cattle producers are being cautioned to look beyond the current high-priced environment, with near-record prices unlikely to be sustained in the medium to long term according to a new industry report.

In its latest beef research report, Australian and New Zealand beef industry – looking beyond the price peak, agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank says while New Zealand farmgate prices are expected to remain around current levels in the short-term, they will then come under pressure as global beef production, and indeed total animal protein production, increases.

This will likely see prices ease, albeit to trade in a higher-than average range out to 2020, the report says. . . 

Officials Urged to Challenge Canada’s Latest Dairy Trade Protectionism:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) has joined with US, Australian, European, and Mexican dairy organisations in requesting a WTO dispute settlement proceeding be initiated against Canada if it continues with a planned extension to its dairy trade protections.

A joint letter, sent to Trade Ministers, sets out concerns that a recently concluded agreement between Canadian dairy producers and processors would provide an incentive to substitute Canadian dairy ingredients for imported dairy ingredients and would unfairly subsidise exports of Canadian dairy products. The agreement would provide a guaranteed price for milk used to manufacture ingredient dairy products, including skim milk powder and milk protein concentrate, which is below Canada’s cost of milk production, and which matches the lowest globally traded reference price for these products. . Image may contain: text

Life is better on the farm.

New Zealand’s Escorial Wool launches exclusive collection:

This season the luxurious and rare Escorial wool will showcase the first complete collection in both worsted and woollen fabrics, woven in Yorkshire, England by exclusive partners Joshua Ellis and Luxury Fabrics.

Escorial wool, originating from the Spanish Royal flocks of El Escorial, has made a name around the world for producing luxury performance garments for a discerning customer, grown from an exceptional small sheep, grazing in limited numbers in Australia and New Zealand. The Escorial distinction is in the heart of the fibre, performing as a naturally coiled spring. It is this coiled attribute that delivers fluidity in the Escorial fabric making a lightweight garment of crease resistance and comfort.

Founded by New Zealander Peter Radford in 1998, Escorial wool in February this year partnered with renowned Yorkshire textile companies Joshua Ellis and Luxury Fabrics, both who have the heritage and experience to translate the characteristics of Escorial into a luxurious fabric. . . 


Rural round-up

September 12, 2016

Shearing role an honour – Sally Rae:

Johnny Fraser has a busy few months ahead of him.

Mr Fraser, a North Otago farmer, has been selected as New Zealand team manager for a transtasman shearing test in Australia in October.

Next year, he is heading to the United Kingdom for nearly six weeks, to manage the New Zealand team.

Shearing has taken Mr Fraser around the world, yet he reckoned the appointment was the  highlight of a lengthy involvement in the sport. . . 

Hardest part out of the way – Hamish MacLean:

The North Otago Irrigation Company has not hit its target of a September 1 commissioning for all shareholders, but chief executive Robyn Wells says the work programme for its $57million expansion is now progressing well.

With a staged commissioning of lines, Mrs Wells said all farmers on the expanded scheme would have their water turned on before Christmas.

Installing the large 1200mm pipe making up the “main spine” of the expansion had been “the most difficult”, but was now complete.

Ten crews, or 138 workers, continued to work across a “significant area of North Otago”. . . 

Strong outlook for horticultural sector – Sally Rae:

An average price of $90 for a 17.5kg lamb is being picked by ANZ economists for 2016-17 — but there are down side risks from Brexit impacts.

The bank’s latest Agri Focus focused on the price outlook for New Zealand’s major agricultural sectors.

The expected environment still looked challenging for key livestock sectors, despite some expected improvement for the dairy industry.

In contrast, the main horticultural crops were on track to post near-record export volumes and still achieve solid prices.

It was a mixed outlook for sheepmeat prices. down side risks were possible due to Brexit impacts but on the positive side, tradeable supply was expected to tighten during New Zealand’s main production window. . . 

Nelson Honey’s sweet success with Rainbow Station lease :

Nelson Honey has bought Rainbow Station’s pastoral lease, securing long-term access to 8300-hectares of high country.

Managing director Philip Cropp said the 33-year lease, which was finalised at the end of August, was significant as it future-proofed its access to the high-country farm.

It would see the company increase hive numbers across the station from 600 to 800. The number was about a fifth of the total hives the company had out across the region, he said. . . 

Family puts cropping skills to good use on sheep and beef farm – Heather Chalmers:

The McLauchlan family has gone against the dairy flow to stock a Mid Canterbury farm with sheep and beef, writes Heather Chalmers.

When the McLauchlan family bought their Mid-Canterbury farm in 2011, they were starting with a clean slate.

There were no stock on the 430 hectare Glengyle when they purchased it, so the family initially relied on dairy support and crops to generate an income while they gradually built up sheep and beef numbers. They have since leased a neighbouring 300ha property. 

They bought Glengyle after selling their mixed cropping farm in North Canterbury to dairy interests. Don McLauchlan said they were keen to move to a sheep and beef area, and get away from irrigation and the intensive management it requires. . . 

Former All White Tim Brown gets $9.7m to expand shoe business – Chloe Winter:

A woollen footwear business founded by former All White Tim Brown has been given a multi-million dollar funding boost.

Brown’s company Allbirds originally launched in 2014 after successfully raising about $3.68 million through a global crowdfunding platform and a US investment fund.

On Thursday, the former Wellington Phoenix captain secured an additional US$7.25m (NZ$9.71m) from Maveron, a private equity fund established by Starbucks founder Howard Schultz. . . 

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The mooing of your cows/bulls at night are keeping my kids and family up late when they need to get up early for school. Please address this problem.


Rural round-up

September 6, 2016

Pukeuri boners get robotic workmates – Sally Rae:

A $7.5 million upgrade at Alliance Group’s Pukeuri meat works is the biggest investment at the site since redevelopment following a major fire in 2006.

Commissioning is under way of robotic  cutting machinery in the  boning room.

The machinery, developed by Scott Technology, features an X-ray unit that analyses each carcass and instructs two cutting machines where to cut.

The primal cutting machine separates carcasses into hinds, middles and forequarters.

A middles cutting machine then separates  middles into racks, loins, flaps and saddles. . . 

Water quality, farm model links asserted – Sally Rae:

New Zealand cannot continue to have conversations about protecting water quality without having a parallel set of conversations that change the farming business model, Taupo farmer Mike Barton says.

Speaking at the Institute of Forestry’s conference in Dunedin, Mr Barton questioned how to start that conversation if the model was to change.

“Food production is the biggest single component of our impact on the planet … We just don’t talk about that. Nowhere in the world do we internalise the environmental costs of food production,” he said.

About 150 years had been spent convincing consumers that food was cheap.

It would take two or three generations before environmental costs were internalised into the price model. . . 

Rakiura Maori Lands Trust & Real Journeys Announce Wild Kiwi Encounter on Rakiura/Stewart Island:

Rakiura Maori Lands Trust (RMLT) and Real Journeys announced today that their first joint tourism venture will be kiwi spotting on Stewart Island called Wild Kiwi Encounter.

These highly successful nocturnal trips were previously run by Bravo Adventures. Owner Phillip Smith, who began the original trips to see Rakiura/Stewart Island brown kiwi says he is delighted that he has been able to find a company with a solid conservation ethos to operate his Department of Conservation concession (authorisation to operate the trips).

“I’ve been running kiwi spotting trips for over a quarter of century now. I still love seeing the look on people’s faces when they see a kiwi in the wild for the first time, but was ready to put my feet up and let someone else head out into the night!” . . 

Higher lamb meat prices eroded by elevated kiwi dollar – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – Limited supply of lamb meat is pushing up prices in overseas markets, however the gains for local farmers are being eroded by the higher value of the New Zealand dollar.

The benchmark CKT price for a leg of lamb in the UK rose to 4.10 British pounds per kilogram in August, from 4.05 pounds/kg in July and 3.40 pounds/kg in August last year, according to AgriHQ data. In New Zealand dollar terms, returns declined to $7.41/kg in August, from $7.53/kg in July, and $8.35/kg a year earlier.

New Zealand’s lamb numbers fell last season as farmers reduced sheep numbers to cope with drought conditions, and are expected to decline a further 2.9 percent to 23.3 million this spring, according to the Economic Service of farmer-owned industry organisation Beef + Lamb New Zealand. . . 

Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker 2016 announced:

Congratulations to Jordan Hogg from Seresin – the Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker 2016. The National Final was held on Tuesday 23 August at MRC and the winner was announced at the Bragato Wine Awards dinner on Thursday 25 August.

Congratulations also goes to Alex Roper from Mission Estate, Hawke’s Bay who was the runner up. Tom Hindmarsh and Matt Fox were the other finalists, also performing strongly throughout the competition. . . 

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Female farmer – of course I don’t work as hard as men, I get it right the first time.

Buchan Uncorks New Design at NZ Winery:

Global architectural firm The Buchan Group has uncorked its design of the Mt. Beautiful Tasting Room in Cheviot, New Zealand, aimed at introducing food and wine enthusiasts to this internationally successful, locally grown wine label.

Mt. Beautiful is a premium North Canterbury wine brand grown and produced at Spotswood, 9 kilometres north of Cheviot. The tasting room based in Cheviot showcases its varieties in Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Chardonnay. . . 

Rod McDonald wines scoop international design award for ‘One Off’ Pinot Noir:

Hawkes Bay wine company Rod McDonald Wines is the only New Zealand winery and business to win a prestigious prize in the 2016 Harpers Design Awards.

The internationally recognised design awards, made up of a high calibre judging panel, received entries from ten countries around the world, with only five picking up an award.

“The standard was high, with some stunning examples of enticing and engaging design, really lifting those products above the ordinary,” said Harpers editor Andrew Catchpole. “But our brief as judges went beyond purely aesthetical considerations, looking at how well the design of each product had been tailored to the client’s brief and its target market.” . . 


Rural round-up

August 30, 2016

Pet theories don’t make water safer:

Federated Farmers urges the public to apply some good old-fashioned common sense and scrutinice the statements of activists as they push their anti-farming agendas in the wake of the Havelock North water-borne gastrointestinal disease outbreak.

Top of the list would be Dr Mike Joy’s statements on The Nation last Sunday where he said:

“’Central and local government had allowed massive intensification [of dairying] that had caused the problem’ when in fact the closest dairy farm we can find is some 40 kilometres away”, Federated Farmers president Dr William Rolleston says.

Or his statement that “animals have to come out of agriculture”.

“The sanity of this statement for New Zealand can stand on its own merits.

“In the context of this bacterial episode he said that ‘over time you find it deeper and deeper and deeper [in the groundwater]’ when it is known that as water penetrates the ground, bacteria are progressively filtered out and their survival diminishes.” . . .

GoodYarn mental health scheme award winner – Sally Rae:

A rural mental health initiative developed by WellSouth has received international recognition.

WellSouth’s health promotion team was named joint winner of best mental health promotion/mental illness prevention at the Australia and New Zealand Mental Health Services Conference in Auckland for its GoodYarn programme.

GoodYarn was developed specifically for farming communities to increase awareness of the signs and symptoms of stress and mental illness, to give people the confidence to talk with someone when they were concerned, and to know where to get help. . . 

Farmers: we will fight for livelihoods – Tim Miller:

Farmers in Tarras are prepared to go all the way to the Environment Court to protect their livelihoods.

Members of the Lindis Catchment Group voted at a meeting in Tarras last night to  appeal the Otago Regional Council’s decision to set a minimum flow rate for the Lindis River catchment at 900 litres per second from October 1 to May 31 every year.

Committee member and local farmer Bruce Jolly said 26 members of the catchment group voted unanimously in favour of appealing the decision. . . 

 

Cattle theft would’ve need 10 trucks – Federated farmers:

A possible theft of 500 dairy cows from a Canterbury farm has stumped police investigating their disappearance.

Pennie Ormsby-Saunders told Newshub she has a herd of 1300 cows but last week noticed more than a third of them were missing.

Rick Powdrell from Federated Farmers says stock thefts are a concerning trend.

“In recent times there’ve been a number of thefts in that area. Now whether these are connected, we don’t know. . . 

Stand built for world champs – Sally Rae:

Four South Otago men will have little time to admire their handiwork when the world’s best shearers and woolhandlers converge on Invercargill next year.

Since May, Otago Shears committee members Bruce Walker, Ken Payne, Neville Leslie and Geoff Finch have spent 130 hours preparing the shearing stand for the Golden Shears World Shearing and Woolhandling championships.

About 4500 sheep will be shorn by competitors from about 30 countries at ILT Stadium Southland from February 9 to 11. . . 

US ag exports expected to rise by $6 billion in 2017:

US agricultural exports are expected to rise in 2017 from 2016 levels, largely due to higher exports of oilseeds and products, horticultural products, cotton, and livestock, dairy, and poultry.

According to the latest Outlook for US Agricultural Trade Report from the US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service and Foreign Agricultural Service, agricultural exports in fiscal year 2017 are projected at $133.0 billion, up $6.0 billion from the revised fiscal 2016 forecast of $127.0 billion.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said: “These numbers once again demonstrate the resiliency and reliability of US farmers and ranchers in the face of continued challenges. . . 


Rural round-up

August 24, 2016

Thousands needed to fill primary industry jobs – Alexa Cook:

The primary sector is turning to cities to promote jobs in the industry in an effort to create a more qualified workforce.

Research commissioned by the Ministry for Primary Industries, Dairy NZ and Beef and Lamb New Zealand has found the industry will need another 2300 people by 2025, on top of the 23,400 needed to replace natural attrition.

There is a growing divide between rural and urban New Zealand, with 36 percent of all secondary students based in Auckland, and just 30 percent spread through rural areas.

New Zealand Young Farmers president Terry Copeland said by 2025 a third of jobs in the dairy industry would not be tied to the land. . . 

Busy ‘making difference’ – Sally Rae:

Fiona Hancox just wants to “make a difference”.

The West Otago sheep and beef farmer recently joined the board of Co-operative Business New Zealand.The organisation represents more than 50 co-operative and mutual businesses operating across a  range of industries, including agriculture, manufacturing, insurance, banking and financial services, utilities, pharmaceuticals, education, health, wholesale and retail.

In February last year, Mrs Hancox became the first female farmer representative director on the board of Silver Fern Farms. . . 

Time to hand over the reins – Sally Rae:

For many years, Chris Bayne has been something of an institution at PGG Wrightson’s Mosgiel store.

So, come September 2,  it will be the end of an era as Mrs Bayne (65) works her last day as store manager.

However, she remained philosophical about leaving a role that has been a big part of her life, saying simply it was “time to go”.

“I just think sometimes you work too long and you retire and, all of a sudden, your health goes to the pack. It’s nice to hand the reins over to someone else …  you can’t work forever,” she said. . . 

Retiring rural postie parks his truck – Lynda Van Kempen:

After travelling more than a million kilometres, Kevin “Rock” McCrorie has finally parked  for good.

His 17-year career as a Maniototo rural postman ended on Friday and he shared some of the finer details with  the Otago Daily Times.

Number of vehicles used: Five Toyota Hiluxes

Kilometres driven: 250 a day, five days a week.

Total: 1,105,000km.

Rural boxholders: 125.

Mail, newspapers and parcels delivered: Hundreds of thousands.

Goldfish received: One

Axolotyls delivered: One. . . 

More business understanding gives Southland sheep farmer positive outlook – Brittany Pickett:

Jo Horrell is feeling positive about the future of the sheep industry.

The Southland farmer believes the tide is turning for sheep farming and she is determined to be part of it. Part of her enthusiasm can be attributed to her recently completing  an Agri-Women’s Development Trust Understanding Your Farm Business course

While she found the Red Meat Profit Partnership-funded course invaluable in gaining a greater understanding of the farm business she runs alongside her husband Bryce, it was having the opportunity to meet like-minded, positive people that for Horrell was a real bonus. . . 

Startup to tackle Predator Free New Zealand challenge:

New Zealand based App and Website Pestur will launch in 2017. Pestur is a social network allowing users to compete with each other in challenges as they work to eradicate different pest species through trapping and hunting.

Co- founder Greta Donoghue says the inspiration came in seeing the millions of people around the world willing to try and catch something that doesn’t exist (Pokemon), “the idea being that if even a fraction of these participants put some real world effort into the issue of invasive pest species we could see tangible improvements ranging from the protection of endangered species to the economics of better crop yields” . . 


Rural round-up

August 9, 2016

Scientist added value to lamb crop – Sally Rae:

Work done by Julie Everett-Hincks to improve lamb survival has received national recognition.

Dr Everett-Hincks has been awarded the Sir Arthur Ward award, presented by the New Zealand Society of Animal Production.

It was a “huge honour” to receive the award at the joint Australian Society of Animal Production and New Zealand Society of Animal Production conference in Adelaide, she said.

Dr Everett-Hincks was the first woman to receive it. . . 

Fonterra ‘we are changing’ – Sally Rae:

Let’s face it —  wastewater might not be the most glamorous subject.

But at Fonterra’s Edendale factory,  some  cool things are being achieved with treated wastewater.

It is being used to irrigate surrounding farmland and  “waste-activated sludge” (WAS) from the factory  is  being used as fertiliser.

The grass grown ultimately returned to Fonterra as milk in  a “really good cradle-to-grave story”, national environment group manager Ian Goldschmidt said.

Edendale is a big operation, employing about 650 people. . . 

Pond developer vents his frustration – Mark Price:

The Wanaka developer of a new salmon “fish-out” facility has complained to Conservation Minister Maggie Barry that Fish and Game New Zealand has opposed the project in order to protect its own commercial interests.

Graham and Hayley Lee, as Inderlee Ltd, were granted resource consent in November for their operation along Cameron Creek, on the eastern outskirts of Wanaka near Albert Town.

They plan to offer the public the chance to catch chinook salmon from large ponds from November next year.

Their consent application was opposed by Fish and Game, and Mr Lee told the Otago Daily Times this week he has complained by email to Ms Barry about the organisation’s motives. . . 

Produce industry leader wins Bledisloe Cup:

Murray McPhail, founder and owner of LeaderBrand Produce, won horticulture’s top award, the Bledisloe Cup, last night.

Horticulture NZ’s president Julian Raine said the Bledilsoe Cup is an outstanding award to receive and this year was honouring a 40 year commitment to the horticulture industry. The award was presented at Horticulture NZ’s annual awards dinner, held in conjunction with Pipfruit NZ, at the annual conference in Nelson.

As McPhail was overseas his son Richard accepted the award on his behalf. . . 

Rural Broadband Initiative phase one complete:

The first phase of the Government’s Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) is now complete, benefitting 300,000 homes and businesses, says Communications Minister Amy Adams.

“Under the programme, rural communities around New Zealand have significantly improved broadband, thanks to the Government’s $300 million investment into RBI. We’ve seen a considerable improvement in access, reliability and speeds across New Zealand,” says Ms Adams.

“Prior to our RBI build, only 20 per cent of rural lines were capable of speeds around 5Mbps. RBI phase one increases this to 90 per cent of rural New Zealand households and businesses, and speeds are in fact well in excess of 5Mbps.

“Before the project, our rural communities were grappling with poor speeds, little better than dial up – but are now enjoying speeds around 100 times faster. . . 

Protecting a local delicacy:

Fishers and keen cooks gearing up for whitebaiting season, opening on Monday 15 August, should be aware of the rules or the rare delicacy could disappear from dinner tables forever.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is responsible for administering the whitebait fishery and ensuring people observe the regulations.

Whitebait are juveniles of five species of native fish: giant kokopu, banded kokopu, shortjaw kokopu, inanga, and koaro. Those that escape the whitebait net grow into adult fish which are some of our most endangered native species – some whitebait species have the same threat status as kiwi and New Zealand falcon. . . 

Wires kill pilots:

The rural economy is vitally important to New Zealand’s economic prosperity but the safety of the aviation industry, which plays an important role in ensuring regional prosperity, is not assured,’ said John Nicholson, Chief Executive of industry body Aviation NZ.

Between 1979 and 2015, helicopter pilots alone had 116 wire strikes resulting in 28 deaths. While people on the ground can generally see wires, they can often be invisible to pilots of low flying aircraft.

Electricity and phone lines are generally well marked with the towers and poles they run between quite visible – be you on the ground or in the air.
‘The major concern is wires erected by farmers,’ said Alan Beck, Chairman of the NZ Agricultural Aviation Association.

They present the greatest risk to agricultural aviation because they can run across gullies, and can be attached to obscure poles or even trees. To make it worse , some manufacturers even produce green covered wire. . . 

Landcorp ditches palm kernel feed to boost environmental credentials – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp Farming, the state-owned farmer, will stop using palm kernel expeller on its farms in the current financial year to shore up its environmental sustainability credentials.

Palm kernel, used by dairy farmers as a supplementary feed to grass during winter or in seasonal droughts, is imported from Southeast Asia and has faced criticism for its environmental impacts as expansion of the palm oil industry spurs tropical forest clearance and peat fires.

Landcorp, New Zealand’s largest corporate farmer, wants to move away from being a commodity supplier of agricultural products by developing higher value products, inking long-term contracts with customers, and investing in branding to boost the value of its products. . . 


Rural round-up

July 15, 2016

Aussie townies put us to shame over support for dairy farmers – Jon Morgan:

A campaign in Australia to support hard-pressed dairy farmers by paying an extra dollar for milk has – surprise, surprise – been a roaring success.

Like us, the Aussie farmers are struggling with low prices. But for them, the perceived villain is closer to home.

Because the Australians have a large domestic market, sales of fresh milk to supermarkets are a big money-earner. But this is being undermined by competition between the two big chains, Woolworths and Coles.

They have used milk as a loss-leader and retail prices have plummeted to as low as $1 a litre. Dairy farmers have struggled because of this, and factors such as international prices and drought, and the call has gone out to city folk to help out. . . 

There are not two sides to the GMO story – Julia A. Moore:

Regarding the May 18 Politics & the Nation article “Are GMO crops safe? Focus on the plant, not the process, scientists say”:

Enough already! How many National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine reports does it take to give the answer that after decades of research there is no conclusive evidence that genetically engineered crops pose heightened health risks or environmental problems?

Whether it is GMOs, climate change or evolution, two critical issues persist. First, how do you stop partisans from ignoring the weight of scientific evidence and cherry-picking or buying research findings that suit their prejudices or self-interest? And second, how do you build public trust in and regulate scientific and technological knowledge that is hitting us, to quote Isaac Asimov, “faster than society gathers wisdom”? . . 

You can’t buy the rain – Nick Hamilton:

You can’t buy the rain….

Thursday afternoon last week I was rung by a reporter asking if I had time to comment on the effect the drought was having. I got the feeling that she had absolutely no idea when I had to explain the term ‘grazing’ to her, but we pushed on. When she hung up the phone I thought to myself, at least the general public will know that we are still struggling with this bloody drought. Doesn’t help us much but it’s nice to know we are not being ignored.

On Friday morning I got a nice message on Facebook from my Aunty congratulating me on my article in the paper. Must have a look at that at some stage I thought as I leapt out of bed, helped Megan make the school lunches, let the dogs off for a quick run then headed off to work, not on the farm, down the road at Sherwood Estate wines. I was driving the tractor up and down the frosty rows of pruned vines when I got a text from a footy mate. “They’re talking about the drought on Newstalk ZB”. . . .

The story to which he refers is:

Two-year drought drives long-term farmer off his land – Leah Flynn and Gerard Hutching:

The farm has been in Nick Hamilton’s family for four generations, but today it sits barren and stockless.

Hamilton was born on North Canterbury’s Minnivey Downs, but abandoned it after two years of drought made the farm unsustainable. 

He took up work pruning grapes in Waipara to make ends meet.  . .

Recognition for passionate young sheep farmer – Sally Rae:

Ever since he was a young lad, Will Gibson’s passion for the farming sector has been remarkable.

Whether it was exhibiting his coloured merino sheep and fleeces at A&P shows, entering stock-judging competitions with considerable success, or embracing life at home on the farm, he displayed maturity beyond his years.

He was always destined to go places in the industry and, last week, that passion was recognised when he received the emerging talent award at the Beef + Lamb New Zealand sheep industry awards in Masterton. . .

Yards ‘sold out from under us’ – Sally Rae:

Some Upper Clutha farmers are outraged by the sale of the Cromwell saleyards to a property developer, labelling the loss of the facility as a “disaster”.

Tarras farmer Beau Trevathan described the attitude of the Cromwell Saleyards Company’s directors as “bizarre”, saying they were elected to run the facility and ensure it was there for future generations.

“They’ve allowed it to be sold out from under us. As far as the farming community here is concerned, the majority of people are bewildered, to say the least. . . 

Breeding bulls for efficiency :

MILLAH Murrah Angus has taken part in the sire benchmarking program from the outset, with stud principal Ross Thompson a member of the program’s steering committee.

“The program has reached a state of useful maturity,” he said, noting that nominations were now being called for a seventh annual trial.

Mr Thompson said: “Traits such as feed conversion efficiency are very hard to measure without a structured progeny test and that’s one great positives of the sire benchmarking program. . .

Dorper value-adding idea leads Kings to LamHam – Sally Cripps:

It was a flourishing organic Dorper lamb grazing operation, combined with an online paddock to plate business that led Andrew and Maree King to a new lamb food marketing venture that is turning heads around Australia.

The couple were in Dubai in 2014, at the world’s largest food trade show, one of the prizes offered as MLA’s 2013 Queensland Sheepmeat Producer of the Year, when Maree had a “lightbulb” moment.

“We went over there with opportunities for our fresh Dorper lamb in mind but it all changed while we were eating at our hotel, where there were so many smoked offerings – turkey and fish and the like – standing in for bacon and pork. . . 


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