Rural round-up

February 20, 2018

Niche markets open up for farmers with good animal welfare and environmental records – Pat Deavoll:

Merino farmers front-footing environmental and animal welfare standards are finding better paying niche markets opening up for them.

A property in the Ashburton Lakes area has secured a contract to sell wool direct to a major American retailer, said Rakaia Gorge runholder Willy Ensor.

“I can’t name the property yet, but one of the reasons they pulled it all together was because they had a very traceable animal welfare system and an audited farm environment plan. . .

Milton woolhandler claims Southern Shears title :

Milton woolhandler Cheri Peterson has become the latest addition to the ranks of Open-class winners by claiming the Southern Shears title in Gore.

Uniquely, all three in Friday’s final were gunning for their first Open win in New Zealand, with the South Otago rookie winning by just over 15pts from runner-up South Island-based Foonie Waihape, from Gisborne, and third placegetter Candy Hiri, of Gore, who were separated by just 0.53pts.

While Waihape had the quicker time and both Waihape and Hiri had better board points, Peterson had the better fleece and oddments points, to make extended a unique record at Gore.. . 

Nutritional formula plant will put Gore on the map – Sally Rae:

From bare farmland to a bustling construction site, the rural landscape of McNab, near Gore, has transformed remarkably over the past 18 months.

The population has been temporarily boosted through the day by about 350 people on-site during the construction phase of Mataura Valley Milk’s new nutritional formula plant.

Work began on the site in August 2016, and the $240 million project is on track for commissioning in May.

Once operational, it will be staffed by 65 full-time employees and process about 500,000 litres of whole milk a day to produce 30,000 tonnes of infant formula a year at full capacity. . .

State-of-the-art $30m fertiliser plant unveiled :

The Ravensdown co-operative has unveiled its new $30 million state-of-the-art fertiliser blending plant and distribution centre in New Plymouth today.

The company’s regional manager, Mike Davey, said a feature of the facility is a $5 million precision blending plant imported from the United States.

“So you’re blending the right amount of product, the right amount of nutrients, the fertilizer’s then spread accurately in the exact amount that’s required for that particular job.” . .

Second sweep of the Great DDT Muster gathers pace:

A nationwide initiative to rid New Zealand of banned pesticides like DDT is gaining momentum as farmers turn over tonnes of the dangerous chemicals for safe disposal.

The programme, called The Great DDT Muster, has so far collected some 17 tonnes of banned persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and other chemicals from properties in Northland to Invercargill. . .

Defiant cow flattens farmer and swims to remote island to escape abbatoir :

A resilient cow destined for a trip to a slaughterhouse has taken control of her own fate, smashing through a metal fence, flattening a farmer and swimming to a nearby island.

Workers attempted to load the stubborn bovine onto a truck bound for an abattoir in Poland last month but it quickly became pretty clear she wasn’t having a bar of it.

The beast instead rammed the fence in the escape, breaking one of the farmworker’s arms in the process. . .

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Rural round-up

February 17, 2018

Disease has two hubs – Annette Scott:

Cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis has been in New Zealand for at least two years and is spread wider than first thought, Southland veterinary clinic Vet South says while Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says there are now two infection hubs.

The Winton practice sent an email to clients on Thursday urging people whose stock or properties might have been linked to Southern Centre Dairies to come forward.

Southern Centre Dairies, the hub of infected properties in Southland, is owned by Gea and Alfons Zeestraten.

Vet South director veterinarian Georgette Wouda said Ministry for Primary Industries surveillance work indicated the disease was limited to a relatively small group of farms but more needed to be known.

“Down in our region all of the infected properties to date have links with Alfons Zeestraten’s farms. . .

Lamb and wool marketers confident – Sally Rae:

Farmers visiting Alliance Group’s tent at the Southern Field Days had mostly one burning question — how long could lamb prices be sustained.

And the response? “We feel market fundamentals around the world give us some confidence,” chairman Murray Taggart said.

The North Canterbury farmer acknowledged that his position was a “bit easier” than what it was when he first took on the role.

The mood among farmers was “pretty positive” and, despite climatic conditions, he was “really chuffed” with market prices.

“You’ve done a bloody good job,” a long-time shareholder told Mr Taggart on the way past, but Mr Taggart said the company was not resting on its laurels. . . 

Momentum grows in understanding of farming, farmers – Sally Rae:

Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne believes there is real momentum building for farming — “and in the right way”.

The straight-talking West Coast dairy farmer — who last year broke a 118-year history of male leadership of the rural lobby organisation — has been at the Southern Field Days in Waimumu this week.

Joking that she had left her partner unsupervised around the many machinery sites, she helped a Federated Farmers team to victory over FMG in a tug-o-war competition.

Ms Milne, who is known for her down-to-earth and no-nonsense approach,  said the leadership role was “really exciting” and it was a privilege to be a voice for farmers. While she knew it was a big job, it had surprised her the places that she ended up and the people she had met.

It had been somewhat of a baptism by fire, with the general election  being held straight after she came into the role. . . 

Honey season better but patchy – Richard Rennie:

With parts of Northland and Bay of Plenty grappling with major rainfall while parts of Taranaki and Otago remain parched, honey producers are reporting mixed results for the season’s honey collection.

Comvita, one of the country’s largest honey producers, has already informed investors this season has been a successful one, largely thanks to more favourable conditions in December and January. 

However, severe weather in early January hit Northland and Waikato hard at a critical flowering period, pushing yields down towards a more average season.

Comvita chief executive Scott Coulter told investors if the above-normal temperatures remain for the rest of this summer, Wairarapa, Whanganui, East Coast and Hawke’s Bay are expected to have an above average season. . . 

Big toy has price tag to match – Sally Rae:

If you’ve got a spare $625,000 sitting in the wallet, then a Fendt 1050 tractor could be just the ticket.

The world’s largest conventional tractor was attracting plenty of interest at JJ Ltd’s site at the Southern Field Days.

There are only three of the 500hp tractors — described by JJ’s staff as being in a “class of its own” — in New Zealand, two demonstrator models and one that had been bought by a North Island contractor. . . 

NZ Well Positioned to be global player in alternative protein market – producer:

Eco conscious millennial consumers are reshaping demand for alternative sources of protein according to the country’s largest manufacturer of vegetarian foods.

Mark Roper spokesperson for Life Health Foods – which makes plant based Bean Supreme and recently launched Alternative Meat Co. products, says growing concern for the environment is leading this demographic to seek out other options to integrate into their diet.

A nationwide survey commissioned by the company has found that millennials aged 18-34 are the most likely demographic to adopt a mostly meat-free lifestyle in the next decade. . . 


Rural round-up

February 12, 2018

Retiring from farming not simple – Sally Rae:

Don’t leave it too late.

That’s the message from Rhodes Donald, from Polson Higgs Wealth Management in Dunedin, who has completed a study of retired farming couples.

He advised other farming couples to begin the process at least five years before they thought was the right time.

Now that his work was written up, it was ready to be distributed to anyone that was interested and he also wanted to speak about it to groups. . . 

Government warning: Farmers ignore concerns about meat at their peril – Madison Reidy:

Besieged by celebrity vegetarians, our agriculture industry is taking up the challenge of finding alternatives to old-style farmed meat. Madison Reidy investigates, in Part 2 of our three-week series.

Deep in the Rangitikei, Richard Morrison and his livestock seem safely tucked away from threats. But he, like all meat farmers, is being confronted by a laboratory-grown blight that he cannot fence out.

Bullish new companies are putting meat mimic products on supermarket shelves,  challenging one of New Zealand’s most valuable export industries and forcing farmers to rethink their future. The options are popularising a consumer movement away from slaughtered food, causing demand for beef and lamb to drop.

Owners of 150-year-old family farms like Morrison’s are shaking in their gumboots, hoping the world’s red-meat cravings will continue. . . 

Anzco chairman named to replace Sir Graeme Harrison – Brittany Pickett:

Kazuhiko (Sam) Misonou will take over as chairman of New Zealand food company Anzco Foods, replacing company founder Sir Graeme Harrison who is retiring from the board at the end of March.

Misonou joined the Anzco board in 2013 and brought with him international business experience. Previously he worked in beef processing and feedlot operations in Australia, had six years in the pork industry in the United States and worked extensively in the meat industry in Japan.

In 2016, Misonou became president of Yonekyu Inc., a Japanese meat production, marketing and sales company that was established in 1965. . . 

Otorohanga formula factory granted land consent – Alexa Cook:

A new $230 million dairy factory in King Country has been granted land consent despite local opposition.

report from the Otorohanga District Council last November said the factory should not go ahead because it would impact on the local ecology, landscape, and rural character.

However, after two months of deliberation the council has now granted Happy Valley Milk the land consent to build its infant formula factory.

Public submissions included concerns about the factory drawing too much water from the ground, and discharging stormwater, wastewater, and air pollution. . . 

Share offer opens for irrigators to invest in 100-year community water supply:

Waimea Irrigators Limited (WIL) has publicly released a Product Disclosure Statement for the Offer of Water Shares, which opened yesterday and is publicly available for irrigators on the Waimea Plains to consider.

The Product Disclosure Statement is an offer to buy water shares in WIL. Shareholders can enter into agreements that allow them to apply under the Tasman Resource Management Plan (TRMP) to affiliate an existing ground water or surface water permit for water provided by the Dam, once it’s built. Landowners will be able to apply for shares in WIL even if they don’t have an operative water permit, which would enable potential future water users to buy into the scheme. . . 

LIC proposes share restructure to reduce conflicts between farmers, investors – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – Farmer-owned cooperative Livestock Improvement Corp’s board has released its suggested plan to merge its two share classes in a proposal the independent adviser described as relatively complicated but overall will deliver benefits.

LIC has two classes of shares: unlisted cooperative control shares and investment shares, which are listed on the NZX Alternative Market (NZAX). Chair Murray King said the current structure means cooperative shareholders have greater voting rights but limited exposure to the financial benefits, while investment shareholders can reap financial gains but have limited ability to influence the cooperative’s direction. . . 

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Enjoyment and stress of holding an A&P show – Allan Barber:

Auckland Anniversary Weekend Saturday saw the 151st Warkworth A&P Show held, as most years, in hot and sunny conditions, but at least this year there were no strong nor ’easterlies or a major blockage of State Highway 1, apart from the normal holiday weekend traffic queues. Not that this was of great concern as I drove to the Showgrounds at 6.15 to greet the gate officials who have the responsibility of admitting exhibitors and competitors early and taking money off the public who start to arrive any time after 8.30.

As chairman of the Warkworth A&P Society for the last few years – nobody else appears to be willing to put their hand up – I should be used to the frenetic lead up to the Show, which involves last minute trade exhibitors, arranging someone to mark out the show grounds which for the rest of the year are the Mahurangi Rugby pitches and making sure everything else is under control including money in the bank account to cover prizes. But this time was a bit different because Marjorie Blythen, our Secretary of more than 30 years, had retired after the 150th Show and, for all of us, it was a whole new challenge to remember critical things that previously appeared to happen automatically. Fortunately there is a good committee able to take responsibility for each section. . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 6, 2018

Middlemarch property positive for cow disease – Sally Rae:

A property at Middlemarch has been confirmed as testing positive for cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.
That means the bacterial disease has now been detected in Winton, Lumsden, Invercargill, Gore, Waitaki and Waimate districts, Ashburton, Rangiora and Hawke’s Bay, as well as Strath Taieri. The number of confirmed infected properties stands at 21 and 34 properties are under restricted place notices.

In its latest stakeholder update, the Ministry for Primary Industries reiterated all detections to date were linked to the original infected properties via animal movements and had been caused by close animal contact.

MPI has contracted a private laboratory to boost the testing capacity and results reporting should pick up. . .

M.bovis just needs simple rules – Sally Rae:

A Central Otago dairy farming couple with first-hand experience of dealing with Mycoplasma bovis say it is very easy to manage.
Shaun Dettling and Pam Thompson, who managed two dairy farms in Australia with the bacterial cattle disease, are happy to discuss their experiences with New Zealand farmers.

The disease was first detected in New Zealand on a Van Leeuwen Dairy Group property in the Waimate district in July last year. The number of properties confirmed to have the disease is now 21. . . 

Health benefits of NZ black currants tapped in to – Andrew McRae:

A New Zealander living in the UK has found a way of tapping into the health benefits of New Zealand-grown blackcurrants, helping our struggling blackcurrant industry.

Blackcurrant growers have finished a relatively poor season caused by adverse weather conditions and coupled with the withdrawal of its biggest client, the makers of the drink Ribena.

Fleur Cushman is founding director of Curranz, a company producing health supplements, primarily for athletes, using 100 percent New Zealand blackcurrant extract. . .

NZ coarse wool prices lift from lows as demand picks up – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Prices for New Zealand coarse wool have lifted at auction this year as the relatively low price stokes demand.

Coarse wool prices have improved over the past three wool auctions, helping lift the AgriHQ coarse wool indicator 22 cents a kilogram from the first auction of 2018. In the first February auction of the year, held in the North Island, stronger wool types all lifted by between 5 and 10 cents a kilogram compared to the previous week, AgriHQ said. . . 

Love a duck but feed it the right food:

There’s a right way and a wrong way to feed a duck.

And too many people are feeding ducks the wrong way, Topflite general manager Greg Webster said.

The North Otago family-owned pet-food business – New Zealand’s first commercial producers of duck-specific food – has offered the Waitaki District Council a free trial of its product, Lucky Duck, to help get the message out that feeding ducks white bread was “doing more harm than good”.

Wild-bird feed was a growing market in the pet food industry as Kiwis began taking the feeding of birds in their backyards more seriously, Mr Webster said, and about 18 months ago the company began producing duck food,  blending seeds, grains and duck pellets,  to meet  market demand. . .

 

Outback photographer will hold international exhibition – Helen Walker:

Whispering Grass is the title of rural and remote photographer Fiona Lake’s international exhibition which will be showcased at the Embassy of Australia in Washington, D.C.

Fiona is a household name in the bush and first began documenting life on Australia’s largest cattle stations, when she began work on Wrotham Park in 1984.

When Fiona arrived at Wrotham Park she found it was a different world from the closely settled farming community where she grew up on the Murray River.  . .


Rural round-up

February 1, 2018

Let ideas flow on water management – Andrew Curtis:

Andrew Curtis is chief executive of IrrigationNZ, a national not-for-profit membership organisation for farmers and growers who use irrigation. It carries out training on efficient water use.

As year’s went, 2017 was a fairly dramatic one. In February, one of the biggest fires in New Zealand history ignited on the Port Hills amid tinder-dry conditions, causing thousands of residents to be evacuated. In March, the Upper North Island was soaked, Auckland experienced its wettest March day in nearly 60 years, and more than 300 homes were flooded.

July brought flooding to Otago and Canterbury, with snow and strong winds in other areas. The end of the year saw a marked change, with many regions experiencing record low levels of rain in November. . .

Remembering rain will come – Sally Rae:

Central Otago farmer Donny Maclean has a saying – ”we’re a day closer to rain than we were yesterday”.

It was important to keep remembering that, he said, as the searing heat continued to beat down on his Omakau farm, reaching temperatures up to 36degC on Monday.

”Central Otago will never let you down. It’ll take you right to the edge [but] it’ll come right in the nick of time,” he said.

Bellfield has been the Maclean family for 125 years and it was the longest period of continual heat Mr Maclean (56) had experienced during his years of farming.

”We’ve never been this hot this long,” he said yesterday. . . 

Long term effect on farmers considered – Simon Hartley:

The public and businesses are being urged to take a long-term view of the drought affecting Otago and Southland, given the compounding factors being faced by all farmers.

The lack of water, rising irrigation costs, failed crops, diminished feed stocks and crop replacement are just some of the issues being faced by farmers in the months ahead, Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan said, after a medium-scale adverse drought event was declared in parts of Otago and Southland yesterday.

”This drought is going to affect crops for some time yet, going into autumn and winter,” he said, when contacted, yesterday. . . 

Mycoplasma outbreak highlights flaws:

The formation of an action group to provide a voice for and to assist Southland farmers understand and deal with Mycoplasma bovis is a positive move.

It is good to see farmers, veterinarians and other members of the industry working together in the quest to eradicate the bacterial cattle disease.

Eradication remains the focus of the Ministry for Primary Industries and so it should, given the implications of the disease not only for New Zealand’s rural sector, but also the country as a whole. . . 

Exports and imports hit new highs in 2017:

Both exports and imports reached new highs in 2017, as New Zealand earned more from agricultural products and bought more cars and computers, Stats NZ said today.

“The previous high for the value of goods exports in a calendar year was 2014,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. “The previous high for imports was 2015.”

Annual exports were valued at $53.7 billion for the year ended December 2017, up $5.2 billion (11 percent) from 2016. Dairy products led the rise, up $2.8 billion to $14.0 billion. Meat rose $706 million to $6.6 billion. Logs, wood, and wood articles rose $546 million to $4.7 billion. . .

Monthly exports reach new record in December:

Exports of milk powder, butter, and cheese lifted total exports to a record $5.6 billion in December 2017, Stats NZ said today. Monthly exports were $1.1 billion higher than in December 2016.

“Record export values of dairy products drove total exports to their highest-ever monthly value,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. “The previous highest values for both dairy exports and total exports were recorded in the 2013/14 dairy export season, when dairy prices were at a high level.” . . 

Comvita will report 1H profit over $3M, confirms annual guidance on normal honey harvest – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita expects to report a “significant turnaround” in its first-half results, with net profit over $3 million, and says it is tracking in line with its full-year guidance after good weather in December and January boosted the honey harvest.

The Te Puke-based company, due to report its earnings for the six months ended Dec. 31, 2017, later this month, said the honey season has progressed to a point where it has early estimates of an average or normal harvest season, though it won’t have full visibility of the crop until April/May. The company’s chief executive Scott Coulter said it was a “welcome return to generally favourable weather conditions conducive to producing honey, compared to the extremely poor season in 2017.” . . 

The changing face of Agritech:

Industries rise, fall and evolve under the constant development of new and innovative technologies. Refrigeration changed how food was supplied, the lightbulb enabled us to utilise more hours in the day, the telephone connected people and the internet distributed information far better and quicker than ever before.

A new a wave of digital technologies is here. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoTs), blockchain, big data, robotics and automation are just some of the technologies currently impacting business. No matter whether it’s banking, engineering, retail or agriculture, these innovations are changing how each sector operates. . .


Rural round-up

January 31, 2018

Southern farmers feel the heat as crops fail – Simon Hartley:

Rural Otago and Southland continues to bear the brunt of the heatwave and farmers are facing hard decisions on destocking and replanting failed winter feed crops.

A smattering of rain across the North Island and upper South Island was allowing farmers there to consider holding on to stock for further fattening.

But in Otago and Southland meat processors are working to capacity as stock is sold off, according to Federated Farmers Otago province president Phill Hunt of Wanaka.

“The pasture has taken a hiding, dying in places. That will have to be replaced over the next two years, at a significant cost,” he said when contacted yesterday. . .

Southern drought meeting requested with minister – Rachael Kelly:

Southland and Otago Rural Advisory groups have written to Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor requesting him to declare a drought for both provinces.

Sweltering temperatures and little rainfall have put pressure on farmers as dry conditions have reached levels not usually seen in January.

Both Southland and Otago have formed drought committees with rural stakeholders including Rural Support Trusts, Federated Farmers, Dairy NZ, Beef and Lamb NZ, Fonterra, regional councils and MPI, and they are asking the Minister to declare a medium-scale adverse event classification.

Regions get drought  classification  – Sally Rae:

Drought in Southland and parts of Otago has been classified as a medium-scale adverse event following a request from drought committees and rural communities.

Yesterday, Agriculture and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor announced the classification – already in place in parts of the North Island and the Grey and Buller districts – had been extended to all of Southland, plus the Queenstown Lakes, Central Otago and Clutha districts.

That triggered additional funding of up to $130,000 for rural support trusts and industry groups to co-ordinate recovery support. . .

Two more farms found with Mycoplasma bovis in the South Island:

Mycoplasma bovis has been found on on two more farms, lifting the total number of infected properties from 18 to 20, the Ministry for Primary Industries has confirmed.

One of the new farms is in the Waimate district and the other is in Gore, Southland.

M bovis causes illness in cattle including mastitis, abortion, pneumonia, and arthritis. This illness is hard to treat and clear from an animal. Once infected animals may carry and shed the bacterium for long periods of time with no obvious signs of illness.

There are 11 infected properties in South Canterbury (Waitaki and Waimate Districts), six in Southland, two in Mid-Canterbury and one in Hawke’s Bay. . . 

A straight talking farmer with an appetite for risk – John King:

“I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it,” said late comedian Jonathan Winters.

North Cantabrian James Costello has a similar attitude farming sheep on 300ha of alluvial flats at Hawarden next to the Hurunui River.

His business remained profitable during three years of drought while many in his district did not.

James has a reputation for being an innovator and is active in the Hurunui/Waiau Water Zone committee and Landcare group. He knows you cannot be passive when faced with overwhelming odds. . .

The future of farming – Grant Leigh:

Younger generations are growing up surrounded by technology and the advancement of these technologies is ferocious.

Along with being frightening and daunting to most of us, it is also exciting, challenging and now more than ever necessary.

The biggest hurdle will not be the appetite for young farmers and supporting industries to do the job, it will be capital and viability. . . 

Federated Farmers’ Katie Milne opens up about the changing times – Michelle Hewitson:

After breaking a 118-year history of male leadership of Federated Farmers, Katie Milne wants to convince townies that rural folk are the same at heart.

When you take the head of Federated Farmers, Katie Milne, out for lunch, it’s redundant to ask if we’re going to eat meat.

“Ha! Yeah. You know what I saw on there,” she says, gesturing at the menu, “and wanted to have a go at and share? That crackling.” Have a go at! She’s a West Coast sheila through and through. I ordered the crackling. She had the beef and bacon burger and chips; I had black pudding and spuds. We were having a health lunch. “We are. We are,” she says. “It’s Friday. It’s a mental health day when you’re eating great stuff like this, isn’t it?” We cracked into the crackling. . . 

Soil health comes first then grass and livestock – Burke Teichert :

In recent columns, I’ve touched on the following topics:

• Empowered people, because everything in our businesses happens because of and through people – usually those closest to the business, land and livestock.

• Sustainability, because it’s such a buzz word and people outside of our business will have an impact, whether we like it or not. Also, ranchers don’t know all we should about the environment, particularly the ecosystem – its complexity and interconnectedness, and how it reacts to our management actions.

• Planning strategically first, and then developing tactics and operational schedules and methods to accomplish the strategic objectives. Too often, we do it backwards – starting with operations, then tactics, letting strategy be determined by default – with tactics defining our strategy. . . 

 


Rural round-up

January 24, 2018

 M. bovis action group formed – Sally Rae:

A Mycoplasma bovis action group has been formed in Southland by farmers, veterinarians and other industry stakeholders.

The aim of MASS (Mycoplasma bovis Action & Support Southland) was to provide a voice for those in the region and also assist the farming community in understanding and dealing with the outbreak of the bacterial cattle disease, spokesman Bevan Collie said in a statement.

Since first detected on a Van Leeuwen Dairy Group property in the Waimate district in July last year, the number of confirmed properties has risen to 17 and includes farms in Southland. . . 

Southland could be milking it :

A new report estimates that the sheep milking industry in Southland could be worth $124 million for the region by 2040.

That would be 1.5 percent of the region’s GDP.

The Institute of Economic Research report, commissioned by the Southland Regional Development Strategy, says this target is achievable.

Read the full report (PDF, 1,347KB) . . 

New spray dryer planned at Waikato Innovation Park as sheep milk ramps up – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – A new $45 million food spray dryer is being planned for Food Waikato as demand from the sheep milk industry ramps up, says Waikato Innovation Park chief executive Stuart Gordon.

Food Waikato, which is located at Waikato Innovation Park, currently has one open access development spray dryer, which came online five years ago and is now running at capacity. According to Gordon, the existing dryer processes about 900,000 litres of sheep milk each year and that is expected to double in the 2019/2020 season. . . 

Workers plan to send tractors home – Yvonne O’Hara:

A group of Vanuatuan orchard workers based in Ettrick are hoping to repaint two British Leyland tractors and take them home.

Group spokesman Lele Petelo said they had been given one of the British Leyland 270 tractors last year by Roxburgh East orchardist Sid Birtles, and the other was donated by Melrose Orchard owner Peter Vernon a couple of weeks ago.

Ettrick vehicle restorer Alistair Stevenson donated his time to repair and restore one of the engines and Mr Vernon bought the necessary parts for them. The men intend to work on the vehicles during their time off. . .

East Coast to hold first FMG Young Farmer of the Year regional final:

A former competitive snowboarder, a stud bull breeder and an award-winning shepherd are set to face off in the East Coast Regional Final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

It’s the first of seven regional finals being held from Kerikeri to Winton to decide contestants for the grand final of the prestigious competition in Invercargill in July. . . 

Top farmland investments earn 17pc despite seasonal setbacks – Andrew Marshall:

Last year’s whacky weather mix of extreme temperatures and rainfall frustrations, plus a weaker cattle market, have taken a toll on the returns of some of Australia’s top farming enterprises, as monitored by the national farmland index.

But returns of almost 17 per cent on the capital value of 60 properties tracked by the index are still pretty impressive.

In fact, the result ranks almost 200 per cent ahead of a similar index of earnings from US agricultural investments. . . 


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