Rural round-up

September 19, 2018

North Island farmers lose 100,000 lambs after spring storm –  Gerard Hutching:

Farmers have suffered “devastating” lamb losses in eastern and central North Island over the last two weeks with an estimated toll of about 100,000.

At current prices of $144 per mature lamb, the economic hit could be $14.4 million.

By contrast Otago and Southland farmers are expected to escape lightly from the impact of snow that has fallen on Monday.

Federated Farmers high country chairman Simon Williamson said lambing would not begin in the areas where most snow had fallen until the beginning of October. . .

NZ maple syrup industry ‘possible and promising’ – Will Harvie:

Canada produces 71 per cent of world’s maple syrup and 91 per cent of that originates from the province of Quebec. But a clutch of New Zealand academics think this country could have a maple syrup industry, despite a mild climate and no sugar maple forests.

Their preliminary research has “determined that a plantation of maple saplings for use in commercial production of maple syrup is a possible and a promising endeavour in New Zealand”, according to a presentation to be given at a chemical engineering conference in Queenstown on October 1.

The most promising places for maple syrup production are roughly Molesworth Station and inland from Westport, both in the South Island, according to their paper.   . .

Local contract a big arable win :

A big multi-year supply contract to Countdown supermarkets for local wheat and grain is regarded by the arable industry as a breakthrough.

Until this year the in-house bakeries of the more than 180 Countdown supermarkets used premixed ingredients produced here and imported from Australia.

But in a deal Christchurch-based Champion Flour Milling business innovation manager Garth Gillam said is the culmination of years of effort, the supermarkets’ bakeries have switched entirely to premixes made using locally-grown products for all in-store baking of loaves, rolls, buns and scones. . .

Rembering your purpose – the big picture – Hugh Norris:

Farmers have told us that one thing that has helped them cope better with the ups and downs of farming, is to remember why they got into farming in the first place and to think about the contribution they make to their wider community.

Keeping the bigger picture of life in mind, and not just being caught up in the endless day-to-day tasks of farming, can be protection against burnout and loss of physical and mental health.

Having a sense of meaning and purpose in life has been shown in many scientific studies to be better for our mental and physical health and even help us live longer. . .

Deer milk brand gets two food award nods – Sally Rae:

New Zealand’s pioneering deer milk industry has received a further boost by being named a finalist in this year’s New Zealand Food Awards.

Pamu, the brand for Landcorp Farming, is a finalist in both the primary sector award and the novel food and beverage award.

Earlier this year, Pamu deer milk won the Grassroots Innovation award at the national field days at Mystery Creek. . .

M. bovis highlights need to improve, not scrap, rural Adverse Events Scheme

Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) highlights that a scheme deferring tax on income from forced livestock sales should be improved not scrapped, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) says.

“Ditching Inland Revenue’s Adverse Events Scheme would remove a valuable tool that farmers and rural businesses can use to smooth out the ups and downs of their income and expenditure after an adverse event,” said CA ANZ New Zealand Tax and Financial Services Leader, John Cuthbertson. . . 


Rural round-up

September 12, 2018

Methane narrative changes with less need for drastic action – Keith Woodford:

The recent note on methane emissions  put out by Parliamentary Commissioner Simon Upton in late August, and underpinned by a contracted research report written by Dr Andy Reisinger from the Government-funded New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC), will change the methane narrative. History will look back at Upton’s note as a fundamental contribution that moved the methane debate towards a logic-based science-informed position.

The key message is that short-lived gases such as methane do need to be considered differently than long-lived gases. That does not mean that they are unimportant. But lumping them together with long-lived carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide has led down false pathways . . 

Good to be ‘out there listening’ – Sally Rae:

Federated Farmers’ new chief executive Terry Copeland freely admits he is not a practical person.

Growing up, he was an “urban kid” with no connection to the primary industries, Mr Copeland (50) said. In fact, he had a music degree.

But he had huge respect and admiration for New Zealand’s farming sector and bemoaned how little the country’s food producers were  celebrated, the lack of acknowledgement being “appalling”.

One thing he said he did love was learning and — six weeks into the new role at the helm of the rural lobby group — he had been enjoying attending cluster meetings around the country. . .

Lamb losses likely after heavy rain in Wairarapa :

Stormy weather could not have come at a worst time for Wairarapa farmers, who are in the thick of lambing season.

From rural Masterton to Castlepoint, and down to the South Wairarapa coast, rain has interrupted lambing, with many farmers recording deaths already, along with saturated paddocks causing slips.

PGG Wrightson area livestock manager Steve Wilkinson said the past few days of rain were “a real shame“. . .

 

Access free-for-all grates with farmers:

Common courtesy and sound workplace and biosecurity safety practice is thrown out the window with proposed new employment laws reported back to Parliament this week, Federated Farmers says.

“There’s been little or no fuss with current laws that enable union representatives to enter a farm or any other workplace to talk to workers after liaising with the owner or manager about a suitable time,” Feds employment spokesman Chris Lewis says. . .

LambEx shows kiwis the future – Annette Scott:

Home from the 2018 LambEx conference in Perth, Beef + Lamb New Zealand-sponsored sheep industry ambassadors Katey Craig and David Ingham are firing hot.

The young generation farmers are excited to share their lessons with fellow farmers and looking forward to being a part of their home country hosting LambEx 2019.

While in Australia the pair also visited several farms to study new systems on a road trip from Melbourne to Adelaide. . .

A&P President: young people crucial – David Hill:

He might be the youngest show president, but Tim Black says attracting even younger people is essential to ensuring the future of A&P shows.

Mr Black, aged 44, is the Canterbury A&P Association’s youngest show president.

He is keen to promote wool and encourage more young people to get involved as he looks ahead to the rebranded New Zealand Agricultural Show in November.

”It’s been a great thing for me to be involved in and I would like to see a lot more young people involved. . .

50-Year Plan Needed for Farming Confidence

New Zealand farmers need to take a long-term view if they are to meet the freight train of compliance requirements and other changes heading their way.

Recent farming confidence surveys show a decline in confidence from the rural sector, with Federated Farmers’ results revealing regulation and compliance remain top worries for farmers, along with uncertainty around the future of water regulations under the Government.

Bridgit Hawkins, ReGen CEO, says the farming sector is coming under increasing pressure and the confidence survey results echo what she hears on the farm. . . .

NZ wineries look to continue their stellar performance in the Sydney International Wine Competition – entries for 39th Competition set to close on 21 September:

Entry to the 39th Sydney International Wine Competition – the only international wine show that judges all its finalists in combination with appropriate food – is set to close on 21 September.

After a record year of production in many wine regions, entries to the Sydney International have been flowing in from all districts in Australia and New Zealand and from major wine producers in Europe. Entries to the Competition are capped at a total of 2000 wines to ensure the most rigorous judging process. . .


Rural round-up

September 9, 2018

Make jobs attractive to youth – Neal Wallace:

Farmers need to change their approach to employment conditions to encourage more people to work for them, Federated Farmers employment spokesman Chris Lewis says.

Low regional unemployment is making staff recruitment more challenging but there are already fewer people choosing agricultural careers.

To be competitive farmers need to consider more than just pay but also rosters, hours of work, housing, the workplace environment, pressure of the job and ensure they meet their legal payroll and time-recording obligations. . .

Annual results will put Fonterra under microscope – Sally Rae:

Scrutiny from farmers is expected next week when new chairman John Monaghan and recently appointed interim chief executive Miles Hurrell front Fonterra’s 2017-18 annual results presentation.

While commodity price fluctuations were “part and parcel” of the reality of being a dairy farmer, grumblings about Fonterra’s corporate performance have been growing, Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface said.

From an historical perspective, prices remained at relatively robust levels and, at $6.50, most farmers would be in positive cashflow territory. . . 

FENZ urges caution on controlled burns – John Gibb:

Large, controlled burn fires at Northburn Station, near Cromwell, produced huge smoke clouds on several days this week, but burned without any problems, Fire and Emergency New Zealand said.

Otago principal chief rural fire officer Graeme Still, of Dunedin, said permitted fires at Northburn had produced large clouds of smoke on Monday, Wednesday and yesterday, but finished without incident.

Fire conditions were suitable at Northburn, partly because remaining snowpack restricted any potential fire spread, he said yesterday. . . 

Wool recovery continues – Alan Williams:

Wool prices made another step forward at Thursday’s Napier sale, building on the gains of a fortnight earlier.

After a disappointing start to the season prices have lifted in the last few weeks and strong wools in the 35-37 microns range were up by another 4% to 5%, PGG Wrightson’s North Island auctioneer Steven Fussell said.

Second-shear wools were mostly up by similar margins on a fortnight earlier with good style 2 to 3 inch fibre length ahead about 7%. . .

On the farm: our guide to what’s been happening rurally:

What’s happening on farms and orchards around New Zealand? Each week Country Life reporters talk to people in rural areas across the country to find out.

North Island-Te Ika-a-Māui

The week finished off much better than it started in Northland. Mid-week the Far North town of Kaitaia had its second 13 degree day of winter – that’s chilly for them. A cold southerly is blasting through and apparently farmers are “right up against it” for pasture. Any strongly kikuyu dominant sward is very slow growing; rye grass is going okay but patches of it are few and far between on most farms. . . 

Fruit exports boost wholesale trade in June quarter:

Fruit exports drove wholesale trade sales up in the June 2018 quarter, Stats NZ said today.

The seasonally adjusted total sales value for wholesale trade rose 2.6 percent in the June 2018 quarter, following a modest 0.3 percent rise in the March 2018 quarter.

Five of the six wholesaling industries had sales rises in the June 2018 quarter. The largest industry increase was in grocery, liquor, and tobacco wholesaling, which was up 3.0 percent ($236 million). . . 

Deer milk hits the spot as finalist in NZ Food Awards:

Pāmu’s deer milk is on the awards stage again with today’s announcement that it is a finalist in two categories in this year’s New Zealand Food Awards.

The NZ Food Awards have been a highlight of the food sector for over 30 years and aim to demonstrate innovation, creativity and excellence in the food industry in New Zealand. . .

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Rural round-up

August 28, 2018

The dam that divides a dry district – David Williams:

A South Island council faces a stark choice – build an expensive dam with considerable financial risks or immediately impose water restrictions that will cripple some businesses. David Williams reports.

It was during the summer of 2000-2001 that the effects of over-allocation of water from the Waimea River, at the top of the South Island, became abundantly clear.

With only a sprinkling of rain over five months, the river dried up. Unprecedented water restrictions came in for the Tasman district and neighbouring Nelson. Commercial growers on the Waimea Plains couldn’t irrigate to grow and ripen their produce. Economic losses were thought to be in the millions of dollars. . .

Water plan fan gives ORC a peek – Sally Rae:

Simon Davies has always thought a little outside the square.

With a background outside of the farming industry, the Otago Federated Farmers president acknowledged he might have a different approach from some farmers.

Last week, Otago Regional Council staff from policy, compliance, science and communications visited the Toko Mouth property Mr Davies farms with his wife Joanna.

It had been something he had been wanting to do since taking over the role earlier this year, he said — to get ORC staff on farm to see first hand the practical steps he was taking around water quality. . .

Multi-talented with attitude – Glenys Christian:

Lisa Kendall reckons she does a little bit of everything when it comes to hiring out her skills for farm work. But she’s also a competitor, scholar, researcher and consultant and is a passionate champion of animal welfare who wants to work toward farm ownership. And though she’s starting with a small sheep milk venture she already has ideas about diversification into cheese and a cafe. She told Glenys Christian about her life. 

Lisa Kendall’s two sisters say she’s crazy. 

But both of them have already expressed their strong interest in getting involved in the sheep-milking farm with attached cheese-making and cafe facilities the 26-year-old is planning in the near future. . . 

From Darfield to Dongguan – Fonterra dials up value add:

Fonterra’s new cream cheese plant in Canterbury has started production and is set to manufacture up to 24,000 metric tonnes of cream cheese annually, bound for China.

China’s changing demographics have driven a surge in popularity for Western foods. The 20kg blocks of cream cheese from Darfield will meet growing demand for bakery goods, like cheese cakes and cheese tarts.

Susan Cassidy, General Manager Marketing, Global Foodservice, Fonterra, says growth in China’s middle class, rapid urbanisation and changing consumer tastes have contributed to explosive growth in the number of consumers wanting New Zealand dairy. . . 

Dr Tom: giving hope to Aussie farmers – Dr Tom Mullholland:

They call Australia the lucky country, but I’m not sure how the global warming dice is rolling for them at the moment. All of New South Wales – that’s 100 per cent – is officially gripped in a drought, which for some regions has been going on for six years.

Apparently, they have hit 99 per cent before but this is the first time they have cracked the ton. It’s not a record you would wish on anybody. I wonder, when does a six-year drought become the local weather?

I was pleased to be invited to speak to a couple of communities in the Outback on my Healthy Thinking strategies on how to manage the top paddock between the ears. As a doctor, I also speak on how to look after your physical, mental and social health. . . 

If you want to save the world, veganism isn’t the answer – Isabelle Tree:

Veganism has rocketed in the UK over the past couple of years – from an estimated half a million people in 2016 to more than 3.5 million– 5% of our population – today. Influential documentaries such as Cowspiracy and What the Health have thrown a spotlight on the intensive meat and dairy industry, exposing the impacts on animal and human health and the wider environment.

But calls for us all to switch entirely to plant-based foods ignore one of the most powerful tools we have to mitigate these ills: grazing and browsing animals.

Rather than being seduced by exhortations to eat more products made from industrially grown soya, maize and grains, we should be encouraging sustainable forms of meat and dairy production based on traditional rotational systems, permanent pasture and conservation grazing. . .


Rural round-up

August 20, 2018

Big US beef index job for AbacusBio – Sally Rae:

Dunedin-based agribusiness consulting company AbacusBio is rebuilding the selection indexes for the American Angus Association, the world’s largest beef cattle society.

AbacusBio partner Jason Archer, who has specialised in beef cattle throughout his career, was thrilled the company was chosen for the work.

The association has more than 25,000 members across the United States and Canada and the scale of the industry was “unbelievable”,  Dr Archer said.

In fact, the work that was being done by AbacusBio meant it affected billions of dollars’ worth of production.

Often, breed societies had selection indexes balancing all the traits that were being measured, and those indexes were both a selection tool and also became “a bit of a benchmark” when evaluating bulls, he said. . . 

Walk On history ‘pretty amazing Kiwi story’ – Sally Rae:

The establishment of Walk On is a “pretty amazing Kiwi story”, new chief executive Mark Davey says.

The  company, founded by young entrepreneur Lucas Smith, produces blister protection products using soft merino wool.

It has appointed Dr Davey as its first chief executive as part of an initiative to carry the momentum of Walk On’s initial domestic success into international markets.

Walk On had secured a national distribution deal with outdoor and adventure sports multi-channel retailer Torpedo 7 and was also available in 10 retail stores nationally, Dr Davey said. . . 

Milking it: NZ’s milk price: Who’s getting rich? Susan Edmunds:

New Zealand milk prices are “astoundingly high” – and we might have supermarkets to blame, one marketing expert says.

Bodo Lang, head of department at the University of Auckland Business School, said the price paid by New Zealanders stood out internationally.

“Particularly when considering that New Zealand is home to one of the world’s largest dairy companies, Fonterra. The problem, however, is not restricted to milk. Other dairy products too have, in comparison with other industrialised nations, exceptionally high prices.”

He said a litre of fresh milk in Germany was selling for the equivalent of $1.51, compared to $2.37 in New Zealand. . . 

Milking it: ‘Micro differences’ between brands. Why are some customers happy to pay a premium? – John Anthony:

Craig Prichard remembers when milk tasted very different from region to region.

“Milk in Taranaki where I grew up was different to the milk in Napier,” Prichard said.

The Massey associate professor, and sheep milk specialist, said things like climate, pasture and production methods used to greatly change the taste profile and characteristics of milk.

“That’s largely disappeared.” . . 

Rural land value a shrinking influence for a bank loan – Andrea Fox:

Banks’ rural credit decisions will increasingly depend on sustainable farming practices, not land value, says the country’s biggest rural lender ANZ Bank.

Commercial and agriculture managing director Mark Hiddleston said ANZ’s credit decisions have for some time been based more on farm performance than the traditional 65 per cent land-to-value ratio and that model looks likely to increase in use.

Also due for change he believes is the banking sector’s use of “a lot of averages”. . . 

Horizons proposes plan change that will get farms compliant – Laurel Stowell:

In an effort to get intensive farms legally consented, Horizons Regional Council is proposing to change numbers on the maximum nitrogen they can leach in its controversial One Plan table.

The matter was discussed at a strategy and policy committee meeting on August 14, and councillors agreed to a three-staged approach.

Last year the Environment Court told the council it must refuse consent to farmers unable to restrict nitrogen leaching to totals in the One Plan’s Table 14.2. The totals were taken from a version of Overseer, a computer system for estimating the amount of nitrogen leaching through soil. . . 

 

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Rural round-up

August 15, 2018

Appeal decision a win for irrigators but more work needs to be done:

An appeal to Environment Canterbury’s Plan Change 5 nutrient modelling rules has been resolved with a major win achieved for irrigators, says IrrigationNZ.

A Hearings Panel on the Plan Change proposed a new requirement that would have effectively required that all older spray irrigation systems in Canterbury be replaced with new ones by 2020. It was estimated that this change would cost irrigators $300 million.

All parties to the appeal agreed that an error in law had been made when the Hearing Panel introduced this as a new requirement because no submitter had asked for this change.

INZ carried out testing on 300 irrigation systems in Ashburton and Selwyn districts over two summers recently which found that older spray irrigation systems can achieve good levels of water efficiency if regular checking and maintenance is carried out

First M bovis case confirmed near Motueka in Tasman – Sara Meij:

The first case of M. Bovis has been confirmed in the Nelson region.

Biosecurity New Zealand said on Tuesday a property near Motueka, in the Tasman district, had tested positive for the bacterial cattle disease.

Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) said the affected property was a mixed sheep and beef farm.

The farm was identified through tracing animals from known infected farms and it was now under a Restricted Place Notice, which meant it was in “quarantine lockdown”, restricting the movement of animals and other “risk goods” on and off the farm. . .

At the grassroots: farmers contribute too – John Barrow:

I recently returned a little disappointed from the Local Government New Zealand conference in Christchurch.

From a dairy farmer’s perspective I was disappointed at the lack of recognition of the cost of farming and issues we are facing – all the emphasis was on urban.

The conference theme was We are Firmly Focused on the Future: Future Proofing for a Prosperous and Vibrant NZ. . .

Draft report on review of Fonterra’s 2017/18 base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission has today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2017/18 dairy season.

The base milk price is the average price that Fonterra pays farmers for raw milk, which was set at $6.75 per kilogram of milk solids for the season just ended.

The report does not cover the forecast 2018/19 price of $7.00 that Fonterra announced in July.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation at the end of each dairy season under the milk price monitoring regime in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA). . .

Four does go into one – Sonita Chandar:

Teamwork is the secret to success for the Southland farm judged the best dairy business in the land. Sonita Chandar reports.

Despite three of the four partners living in the North Island the success of a Southland farming business can be attributed to exceptional teamwork and good clear lines of communication.

Each partner brings strengths to the table but no one is above the others. They are all equals, make decisions as a group and share in the spoils of their collective success.

MOBH Farm, an equity partnership made up of Kevin Hall, Tim Montgomerie, Jodie Heaps and Mark Turnwald, won two category awards as well as being named the supreme winner at the 2018 Dairy Business of the Year awards (DBOY). . .

Farmers rally around Cancer Society fundraiser at Feilding Hogget Fair – Paul Mitchell:

The rural community is banding together to get behind the Cancer Society, with personal connections running as deep as their pockets.

The annual Hogget Fair at the Feilding Stockyards on Wednesday is one of the biggest in New Zealand. For the second year running, farmers will donate sheep to help those who are doing it tough.

The money raised from selling the sheep will go directly to supporting Manawatū-Whanganui cancer patients. . .

Rare heifer triplets thriving on Taieri farm – Sally Rae:

Holy cow – it’s a girl. Or in the case of a heifer calving on a Taieri dairy farm last week, it was a gaggle of girls, handful of heifers.

The first-calver produced a very rare set of heifer triplets on the Miller family’s farm at Maungatua. Andrew Miller and his father Jim had never encountered triplet calves before.

Andrew was particularly amazed the Kiwi-cross calves had all survived and were now doing well in the calf shed. . .

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Rural round-up

August 14, 2018

‘They produce, simple as that’ – Sally Rae:

“We wouldn’t be farming today if it wasn’t for the Romneys.”

West Otago farmer Blair Robertson is a passionate advocate for the breed, saying “they produce,  simple as that”.

Mr Robertson and his wife Sally’s Merrydowns stud at Waikoikoi was one of three properties visited during a bus tour last week, as part of a reunion of  Romney stud breeders and stud stock agents. . . 

Novice Māori cheesemaker wins major award with smelly camembert – Eden More:

A novice Māori cheesemaker has won a major award in one of the world’s most prestigious cheese competitions.

Zev Kaka-Holtz works for Whangārei artisan company Grinning Gecko and his kau piro cheese has taken the bronze medal at the Nantwich international cheese show in the United Kingdom.

Kau Piro (smelly cow in te reo) is a camembert style cheese that is washed in a bacteria solution giving it its characteristic aroma.

Mr Kaka-Holtz said at first he was disappointed he didn’t win gold in his section for novice cheesemakers. . . 

Farming still pulls heartstrings – Glenys Christian:

Tourists and commuter traffic along with proximity to Auckland keep Rob and Rachel Cashmore aware of the scrutiny farming is under. Rob’s not backward at sticking up for farmers but is also conscious of his role in protecting the land and nature while farming commercially. Glenys Christian reports.

The power and speed of international communication was clearly shown to sheep and beef farmers Rob and Rachel Cashmore when tourists uploaded an image that made it to Holland and back to them within a day.

The tourists were driving past the couple’s Orere Point farm when a mob of sheep on the road close to the house made for a holiday photo with the caption “Not a traffic jam you’d expect this close to Auckland”. . . 

Couple go above and beyond for dog trials – Sally Rae:

They say behind every good man is a good woman.

When it comes to dog triallists, the same mantra could be applied, particularly in the case of Canterbury’s Jo Binnie.

For 50 years, Mrs Binnie has accompanied her husband Peter to dog trials, despite having never run a dog.

Last week was no exception; the couple attended the Southern Indoor Charity Dog Trial at Waimumu, near Gore, where Mr Binnie and Kate finished sixth in the open. . . 

Bringing lamb back into fashion – Shan Goodwin:

RESEARCHERS are on a mission to better match lamb with emerging consumer trends against a backdrop of record prices and consumption decline.

The potential is strong to fabricate cuts that tick boxes like convenience, modern tastes and the need to feed smaller households, they have found.

Likewise, there is solid opportunity for marketing on nutritional claims that the lamb industry hasn’t fully tapped. . . 

When a farmer and a dietitian are the same person: telling stories to counter misinformation about biotechnology – Jennie Schmidt:

The four most compelling words in the English language may be: “Once upon a time.”

When we hear them, we know we’re in for a story—and stories are the most powerful form of communication available to us.

Farmers don’t always appreciate this fact, especially when we’re discussing our own business of agriculture. We’re inclined to mention inputs and outputs, moisture levels, yields, commodity prices, and more. You know: farmer talk. . . 


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