Rural round-up

July 2, 2015

Stoat threatens sanctuary kiwi:

Conservation staff are hunting a stoat that has breached a native wildlife sanctuary’s $2 million fence.

The Orokonui Ecosanctuary near Dunedin is home to several species of native birds, insects, and tuatara.

The centre’s conservation manager, Elton Smith, said a ranger spotted the stoat’s footprints in the snow last week.

“Experts confirmed the worst case scenario that it was in fact a stoat,” he said. . .

$8.8m in erosion grants awarded

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced $8.8 million in funding grants over four years to help councils tackle hill country erosion.

“We’ve seen the serious damage that erosion has caused after the severe storm in the Whanganui, Rangitikei and Taranaki regions, both economically and environmentally,” says Mr Guy.

“This funding round is timely, given that $4.7 million out of the total $8.8 million is going towards the Horizons Regional Council. This covers the Whanganui and Manawatu regions which have been badly affected by flooding and landslides.” . .

 

Getting the right TPP deal – Nigel Sitrling:

Farming leaders say they will not be bounced into accepting a poor deal in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Government should walk away from the talks if they do not deliver significant improvements in access to overseas markets for this country’s major exports.

After several times looking like it might fail in recent weeks the 12-country negotiation took a sizable step forward yesterday when the United States Senate finally passed legislation giving President Barack Obama authority to negotiate trade deals on behalf of Congress.

The so-called Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill was passed 60-34 and is now ready to be signed into law by Obama in a move expected to clear the way for countries in the TPP talks to bring six years of talks to a close. . .

The bigger picture is progress – Rick Powdrell:

My November address to council had a theme of change. This is a topic our wider industry regularly focuses on, but concentrates on the big macro burning issues often without giving credit to the many progressive changes being made.

I don’t need to highlight the on farm productivity gains made in recent years to this council.  Our progressive farmers have adopted practices and technology to significantly lift the performance of their stock and the quality of the product to the end consumer.

At the same time the meat companies have been adopting modern technologies to improve the throughput performance of their plants. . .

Life membership takes Elliot by surprise – Sally Rae:

When Mike Elliot was presented with life membership of Otago Federated Farmers, he said it took him by complete surprise.

”It certainly blew my socks off. It was totally unexpected; just brilliant,” the 66 year old South Otago farmer said.

Mr Elliot first became involved with the rural lobby organisation in the early 1980s, attending Clinton branch meetings. In those days, the branch system in the organisation was very strong.

He later became chairman of the dairy section of Otago Federated Farmers and served as national senior vice president of the section. He was also a former provincial president. . .

 

Disappointment with ORC over wilding trees – John Gibb:

Otago Regional Council member Gerry Eckhoff says it is ”regrettable” the council has earmarked no funding to support community groups, including those in Central Otago, battling to remove wilding trees.

At an ORC meeting this week Cr Eckhoff, who lives near Alexandra, voted for the ORC’s amended long-term plan (LTP) overall.

But he voiced concern that no money was being provided to support community groups undertaking good work in tackling the growing wilding pine ”disaster”. . .

“Resounding support” for new arable industry structure:

Federated Farmers new Arable Industry Group Chairperson Guy Wigley says some “minor changes” has the arable sector on a secure footing for the forseeable future.

The industry group held its AGM in Wellington today with council elections and confirmed it’s name change from Federated Farmers’ Grain and Seeds Industry Group to the Federated Farmers’ Arable Industry Group. . .

 

New faces on federation’s dairy executive:

Federated Farmers’ Dairy Industry Group has announced changes to its national executive this afternoon.

At the industry’s national council in Wellington there were two new delegates elected with one retiring.

Marlborough dairy chair Wayne Langford was elected vice chair to the national executive, while Mid Canterbury dairy chair Jesse Chan-Dorman was appointed to the executive. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 1, 2015

Dr Rolleston new vice-president of the World Farmers Organisation:

Federated Farmers President, Dr William Rolleston has been elected Vice President of the World Farmers Organisation (WFO) while attending its General Assembly in Milan.

The WFO aims to bring together all the national producers and farm cooperative organisations with the objective of developing policies which favour and support farmers’ causes in developed and developing countries around the world.

“I am delighted and incredibly humbled to be elected into this role,” says Dr Rolleston. .  .

 

Sheep shipment should have been handled better – Jon Morgan:

 I recall once being told that the Prime Minister gets more calls and letters about animal welfare than any other issue.

No-one likes to see an animal suffer and it appears we’re more vigilant about this than we are about anything else, including child cruelty.

The authorities act quickly and severely when cases of animal cruelty occur. Hardly a week goes by when we’re not reading of a case before the courts. Unfortunately, each year several of these are farmers and involve multiple animals.

And so the outcry over the recent shipment of 50,000 sheep (actually 45,000) to Mexico quickly escalated to hysterical levels. . .

Gisborne bull breeders on a high after $100,000 sale  – Kate Taylor:

Angus breeders Charlie and Susie Dowding are buzzing at the sale of one of their bulls for $100,000 – a record price for an on-farm bull sale in New Zealand.

The Gisborne stud’s Rangatira 13-38 sold to the Bayly family’s Cricklewood Angus, Wairoa, which will use the rising two-year-old bull itself initially and make semen available for sale in the future.

“I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling yet,” Susie Dowding said.

“We had no idea at all he would be so sought after. We had moved him up the catalogue but obviously he should have been up further. I’m not sure how many were bidding to start with but it ended up with two studs who wanted him badly.” . .

Focus on support networks – Sally Rae:

A gathering of rural professionals is being held in Oamaru next week to highlight the support networks available to farmers.

It has been organised by the Rural Support Trust, Federated Farmers, Beef and Lamb New Zealand and DairyNZ.

The organisations all had concerns for farmers, particularly in North Otago but also other areas, over the next three to four months, as they faced the effects of drought and also the low dairy payout, Otago Rural Support Trust co ordinator Dave Mellish said. . .

ECan’s future direction – Conan Young:

After five years without a democratically elected regional council, warnings are being sounded that Canterbury’s stock of capable leaders is in danger of being hollowed out.

As Insight investigated the plan for ECan to make a partial return to democracy, it was told the region is getting used to having decisions made for it by government appointed commissioners.

Environment Canterbury’s councillors were sacked by the government amidst claims they were dysfunctional and had failed to introduce a water plan for the region, allowing it to make the most of its alpine water and reap the economic rewards of large scale irrigation.

Now there’s a proposal for a partial return to democracy with a mix of elected members and appointed commissioners.

According to the government, there’s still too much at stake to risk a return to fully elected councillors.

But the head of the Politics Department at Canterbury University, Bronwyn Hayward, takes issue with that position. . .

 

Cashflow crucial for Taranaki demonstration farms – Sue O’Dowd:

Demonstration farms near Stratford and Manaia are closely monitoring their cashflow, focusing on pasture management and deferring some expenditure as they plan for the season ahead.

The Stratford Demonstration Farm, operated by an incorporated society, and the Waimate West Demonstration Farm, owned by a trust, were both established in 1917 by local farmers who wanted a model dairy farm in their area to develop and promote better farming methods. Both farms are managed by the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre. 

Waimate West Demonstration Farm chairman John Fischer says cashflow will be crucial if dairy farmers are to manage their finances in the wake of two seasons of low payout forecasts. . .

Auditing just futile bureaucracy –  Lynda Murchison:

So much time and energy is spent managing land and water at present, with decisions around rules only the first step.

What those rules look like and how much they will cost farmers and the community to implement also needs close scrutiny. Take a couple of examples from Canterbury.

Overseer; like it or hate it, Canterbury farmers are required to record an estimate of their nitrogen losses using Overseer. Personally I don’t have an issue with that. . .


Rural round-up

June 25, 2015

Supplies helicoptered to rural people:

Emergency services in Taranaki have delivered essential supplies to 20 to 30 rural people who remain cut-off following the weekend floods.

Helicopters have been kept busy in Taranaki and the neighbouring Whanganui region ferrying supplies to isolated farms and rural communities and in some cases, evacuating people needing to get out.

Taranaki Rural Support Trust chair Graeme Hight said there were still two areas in the south of the region where road access was blocked. . .

Dean – Balance needed around Rural Health and Safety Reforms:

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean says it is crucial to get the balance right with proposed health and safety reforms.

“The health and safety reform bill is currently before parliament and while I welcome any moves to improve safety for farmers and small business owners, I also don’t want it to prove too onerous. . .

Student out to make a difference – Sally Rae:

Shaun Snoxell loves the land and food production.

The Lincoln University student also has a passion for poverty alleviation, the result of time spent volunteering in Africa.

So when he found out about a global Youth Ag Summit in Australia this year, with a theme of Feeding a Hungry Planet, he was keen to apply. . .

NZ honey peak body could cost $2m, but who pays? – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – A proposal to create a single body representing New Zealand’s beekeepers and honey product sellers could cost $2 million a year, but doesn’t yet have agreement on how it would be funded.

The industry concluded its four-day conference in Taupo amid expectations China will impose standards on the lucrative manuka honey trade, which has drawn criticism in the UK after a number of false claims to manuka pedigree from what were just blends. Asian demand for manuka honey has seen the price across all New Zealand honey increase, stoked by a global shortage of honey. Bees produced $187 million of exported honey in the June 2014 year, up 8 percent by volume and almost 30 percent by value on the previous year. . .

A2 confirms Dean Foods is other party in possible bid -Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co has confirmed media speculation that Texas-based food and beverage company Dean Foods is the other party with Freedom Foods that is contemplating making a takeover offer for the milk marketing business.

Dual-listed A2 said it made the disclosure at the request of the ASX in response to media reports. The Australian Financial Review’s Street Talk column yesterday named Dean Foods as the second party in a consortium seeking to buy A2, providing an alternative route for the company, which markets milk with a variant protein, to expand in the US. The AFR speculated the bid could be as much as $2 a share, a massive premium to A2’s share price of 57 cents before potential takeover became public. . .

Solving the dairy payout – Chris Lewis:

After reading the article ‘The buck stops at Theo’, with Labour’s Primary Industry Spokesmen, Damien O’Connor, claiming he needs to take a voluntary pay cut, I wondered will this solve our problems.

A topical discussion at the moment is that do Fonterra directors need to go? Would such a move restore credibility with farmers and staff? While it might bring a bit of satisfaction to people to have someone fall on the sword for our low pay out, I personally doubt all these calls will solve our issues. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 19, 2015

Beef + Lamb New Zealand not able to progress joint market development model:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand won’t be progressing a joint market development model with meat processors in the next commodity levy cycle from 2016-2022.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman, James Parsons said meat processors have decided not to progress the proposed collaborative 50:50 funded market development entity focusing on country of origin promotion. This was a proposition worked up by Beef + Lamb New Zealand in conjunction with meat companies over the past two years.

“We’ve had a lot of dialogue and constructive discussions with processors, considering how market development could be funded and delivered in the future. Naturally, after all the hard work, it’s disappointing that we weren’t able to get agreement. However, we respect processors preference for their own commercially-focused marketing given, they are the ones who sell the product. What became apparent over the two years of one-on-one meetings and workshops with meat companies was the wide ranging views on how we should promote New Zealand’s sheepmeat and beef.” . .

 

Sign dairy prices bottoming out – Sally Rae:

The latest GlobalDairyTrade auction results offers ”the mildest of encouragements” that global dairy prices might be bottoming out, economists say.

While the overall price index was down 1.3% this week, it was also the smallest drop since the latest downturn in prices began in March.

But it still ”shed no real light” on whether prices would recover enough over the course of the season to meet Fonterra’s milk price forecast, Westpac senior economist Michael Gordon said. . .

Mushroom farm faces prosecution  – Simon Hendery:

Long-established Havelock North business Te Mata Mushrooms is being prosecuted on charges carrying a maximum $600,000 fine for multiple alleged breaches of its resource consent.

The Brookvale Rd company has been the subject of regular complaints about the odour it produces which has allegedly wafted over its boundary in breach of its consent conditions.

It has also been accused of failing to build a multi-million dollar building to contain its compost-making facilities – another requirement under its resource consent. . .

Forestry standard part of Govt’s plan to simplify RMA:

A new National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry to simplify and standardise Resource Management Act requirements was proposed today by Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew at Paengaroa Forest in the Bay of Plenty.

“The current system for environmental regulation of forestry is complex and confusing with thousands of different rules across New Zealand’s 78 councils. This proposed standard will simplify the rules and save the forestry industry millions in compliance costs while ensuring environmental issues like wilding pines, protecting spawning fish and erosion are better managed,” Dr Smith says. . .

 

Government decision made on raw milk:

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew has today announced the Government’s decision to introduce a new policy around the sale of raw milk to consumers.

“Raw milk is a high risk food, particularly for children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“After extensive consultation and review, the Government decision will allow farmers to continue to sell raw milk directly to the public from the farm and via home deliveries.

“I recognise that people feel strongly about their right to buy and drink raw milk. Equally, I am also aware of the strong concerns about the public health risks associated with drinking raw milk and the potential risk to New Zealand’s food safety reputation. . .

Federated Farmers want to see fine print on raw milk:

Federated Farmers wants to see the fine print of the rules around selling raw milk before farmers will know it its worthwhile.

The Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew has announced farmers will still be able to sell raw milk to consumers, and the government will not be implementing plans to abolish raw milk sales, restrict their volume or prohibit home deliveries.

Dairy spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says farmers value having a range of selling options. . .

 

Hort leaders connect with students to grow industry:

Although the number of horticulture students has increased, it is still not enough to satisfy demands. Now, industry leaders are connecting with Massey University in an effort to grow graduates in the sector.

Massey University offers the only horticulture degree course at university level in New Zealand. One of the partnerships it has is with Horticulture New Zealand.

Senior business manager at Horticulture New Zealand Sue Pickering gives a guest lecture to students taking the first-year Horticulture Production paper. . .

Seeka reports record crop volumes handled for 2014-15 harvest:

Seeka Kiwifruit Industries has packed a record number of trays in the just-completed 2015 kiwifruit harvest, handling more than 26.3 million class 1 export trays, compared to 20.0 million class 1 trays in 2014. The total volume of all classes of kiwifruit is expected to exceed 27.4 million trays this year. This compares to the 24.944m forecast to shareholders at ASM held on 28 April 2015.

Both Hayward [Green] and Gold class 1 volumes are up. Total Hayward packed or in store for 2015 is 21.8 million trays compared to 18.1 million in the previous year. Gold volumes in 2015 totalled 4.3 million trays and compare against 1.7 million in the previous year. Seeka also packed approximately 200,000 trays of the Zespri G14 SweetGreen. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 18, 2015

Winning vet ever on the go – Sally Rae:

Oamaru-based veterinarian Dave Robertson has been described as ”someone who lives and breathes sheep and beef”.

Mr Robertson, a partner at the Veterinary Centre, has received the inaugural sheep and beef cattle vet of the year award from the sheep and beef cattle branch of the New Zealand Veterinary Association. . .

Never too busy for trialling – Sally Rae:

Newly elected New Zealand Sheep Dog Trial Association president Graham White may have a big year ahead of him – but he will still fit in some dog trialling.

”Too right”, Mr White (64), who already has several judging appointments for the next season, said. His involvement with dog trials spans more than 40 years and he has been vice president of the association for the past four years. . .

Tech expos for everybody – Sally Rae:

From the technophobes to the techno savvy, all farmers will be catered for at technology expos in Otago this month.

The Beef and Lamb New Zealand farming for profit technology expo is being held in Tapanui on June 25 and Alexandra on June 26.

The focus was on profiling innovative technologies designed to make farming more efficient, profitable and easier, AgFirst Otago agricultural business consultant Nicola Chisholm said. . .

Scientists reveal underpinning of drought tolerance in plants – American Society of Plant Biologists

Regions all over the globe are suffering from severe drought, which threatens crop production worldwide. This is especially worrisome given the need to increase, not just maintain, crop yields to feed the increasing global population. Over the course of evolution, plants have developed mechanisms to adapt to periods of inadequate water, and as any gardener can tell you, some species are better able to handle drought than others. Accordingly, scientists have invested much effort to understand how plants respond to drought stress and what can be done to increase the drought tolerance of economically important plants. . .

 

Africa must modernise its farms in order to fight hunger and poverty – Mark Lynas:

Africa desperately needs agricultural modernisation. With the most rapidly growing population in the world and hundreds of millions still suffering malnutrition, African leaders cannot afford to close the door to innovation.

Poverty is endemic and “yield gaps” mean that African farmers commonly harvest less than a tenth of the global average in maize and other crops.

Part of the problem has been political resistance to adopting new and improved technologies, particularly in seed breeding. Some of this unwillingness has been home-grown, but much has been imported to Africa by rich-country NGOs with a colonialist ideological agenda that see poverty as dignified and want to keep farmers permanently trapped in subsistence lifestyles. . .

Farmside to offer rural 4G:

Faster 4G internet is coming to parts of New Zealand previously denied access to the latest technology, and Farmside is happy to help roll it out.

“We are the leading rural supplier of 3G through the Government’s Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) that gets in to some of the country’s most hard-to-reach places. Now Farmside, through Vodafone, can offer this next generation technology in selected areas,” says General Manager of Sales and Marketing, Stuart Cooper. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

June 15, 2015

Loss forecast if water plan unchanged – David Bruce:

The North Otago and South Canterbury economies could lose up to $42 million a year and 371 jobs if a water allocation plan for the Waitaki River is not changed, according to an economic impact study.

Two-thirds of farmers who irrigate from the Waitaki River would lose a total of about $30 million a year in farm income.

And allocating some of the Waitaki River’s water to Ngai Tahu takes a potential $106 million to $109 million a year and an additional 900 jobs away because of lost future irrigation. . .

Dairy farming leader backs Fonterra – Sally Rae:

Do not sack Fonterra’s leadership – that is the message from one Otago dairy farming industry leader.

Hundreds of jobs are likely to go as part of a review of the dairy giant which began last December.

Fonterra has been in the spotlight this year, amid falling global dairy prices and declining payouts for suppliers.

Yesterday, North Otago Federated Farmers dairy chairman Lyndon Strang said reviews were ”healthy for any business”. . .

Deer farming pioneer recognised – Lynda Gray:

Southland deer farming pioneer, leader and mentor David Stevens is the 2015 recipient of the New Zealand Deer Industry Award.

Stevens’ leadership roles in the industry started in the early 1980s as the inaugural member of the Southland Deer Farmers committee.

He was a key instigator of the National Velvet and Cervena Plates competitions and a hardworking contributor to many deer farming-allied initiatives such as monitor farms, discussion groups and stud breeder initiatives. . .

Aeronavics unveils drone at Fieldays – Paul Mitchell:

A Raglan-based drone company’s new products could help farmers reduce costs and discover crop diseases earlier.

Aeronavics is showcasing the agricultural applications of their next-generation drones at the Innovation Centre this week.

The centrepiece of their booth is three colour-coded drones, each representing one agricultural task.

Aeronavics co-founder Linda Bulk said any one drone could do all three tasks, it was just a matter of swapping out the “payload” attachments. . .

Life on the dingo fence – Emma Downey:

BOUNDARY rider on the dingo fence rider might seem like a job title plucked from the 19th century, but it’s one just as relevant today – perhaps even more so – than it was when the fence was constructed in the late 1800s.

At more than 5000 kilometres long, Australia’s dingo fence has the distinction of being the world’s longest fence, and while utes may have replaced horses as the mode of transport for today’s “rider”, the job remains the same.

Then and now, the boundary rider’s job is to monitor the fence, look for breaches and make repairs to prevent dingos from entering the pastoral zones of the state, and as graziers fear, breed with domesticated dogs gone wild and increase what is already a growing issue. . .

 

 

American Cattlemen's photo.


Rural round-up

June 8, 2015

New convener’s eyes on support system – Sally Rae:

When Julie Dee headed to the Dairy Women’s Network conference in Invercargill in March, she was feeling a little disillusioned.

With a declining payout and various other challenges, she went with a friend, mostly to support and connect with her and to have a couple of days away.

But the conference proved to be a ”revelation” and Mrs Dee (37) became so inspired that she is now the new voluntary convener for Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) in North Otago. . .

Focus on rural mental health: – John Maslin:

Plunging dairy prices will continue to put enormous pressures on the mental well-being of some sectors of the farming community, and the head of Rural Women NZ says farmers must understand when they need help.

Wendy McGowan was guest at the Lower North Island regional conference held in Wanganui at the weekend, an event organised by the Fordell-Mangamahu branch of the organisation. . .

Big week out for agricultural sector:

The centre of attention for rural New Zealand this week will be Mystery Creek outside Hamilton, where the 47th national Agricultural Fieldays opens its gates on Wednesday.

The big week out for the agricultural sector keeps getting bigger.

Chief executive Jon Calder said it had topped 1000 exhibitors for the first time.

Regular visitors to Fieldays would notice some significant changes.

“In the last 12 weeks, we moved over 100,000 cubic metres of earth to create 100 new exhibition sites, which have been taken up by our customers, so the site looks and feels a lot different this year. . .

Synlait forecast milk price for 2015 / 2016 season:

Synlait Milk’s forecast milk price for the upcoming 2015 / 2016 dairy season is $5.50 kgMS.

“Despite the small recovery in commodity prices we saw earlier this year, the market has not delivered the stability we had hoped for,” said John Penno, Synlait’s Managing Director.

“We’re very aware of how financially tough this current season is for our suppliers. We are confident commodity prices will recover over time and our 2015 / 2016 forecast milk price assumes we will see the beginning of this recovery from the current low prices.” . . .

 

Smaller, excellent quality vintage further enhances New Zealand’s reputation as a world class wine producer:

The 2015 New Zealand grape harvest has been completed with grape growers and winemakers across the country incredibly pleased with the quality and flavours of the 2015 vintage wines.

As all New Zealanders will be aware, we enjoyed a fabulous summer which provided excellent conditions for ripening grapes across the country, said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. “As a result we expect vibrant, fruit driven wines which are true expressions of our grape growing regions.”

While quality will be high, the vintage size totalled 326,000 tonnes – down 27% on the record 2014 vintage. Despite the excellent summer, the cool spring weather contributed to the marked reduction in the crop. . .

 

James Rebanks, Man of Sheep, Man of Letters –  Roslyn Sulcasjune:

MATTERDALE, England — James Rebanks picked up a newborn lamb by the scruff of its neck and set it on its feet. It stood, shaking and weak. “We’re going to lose that one,” he said. He got back onto the quad bike that he uses to patrol his farm, 300 acres of hilly land near this parish in the Lake District, where his family has farmed for about 600 years. “Sometimes it happens,” he said stoically.

Birth, death and everything in between are Mr. Rebanks’s daily bread as a sheep farmer in this beautiful but inhospitable terrain in the northwestern part of the country. But he is no isolated, anachronistic figure striding into the hills, shepherd’s crook in hand. (Although he certainly has one.) He has a degree from Oxford, a Twitter account with almost 65,000 followers, a best-selling book and a part-time job as an adviser to Unesco. . .  (Hat tip: Beaties Book Blog)


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