Rural round-up

April 7, 2019

One thing leads to anotherSamantha Tennent:

A Northland farming couple have completed their pathway of progression but still have plenty to do. Samantha Tennent reports.

A farm journey for a Northland couple has been full of ups and downs but one event in particular led them to push themselves to not just move but to forge ahead and buy their own farm.

Don and Kirsten Watson farm on the picturesque Kaipara Harbour milking 260 cows on 112 hectares. They bought the farm in 2017 after spending a month snowbound and without power on their Central Plateau farm at Rangitaiki on the Napier-Taupo highway.

It has been a varied and at times challenging and scary journey but say they wouldn’t change a thing. . . 

Big wetland bush block opens to public after $500,000 crowd funding effort– Mike Watson:

An endangered forest wetland in Taranaki, saved from farmland development by a public fundraising drive, is ready to be opened up to the public.

The 134-hectare Mahood-Lowe reserve, near Kaimiro, 20 kilometres southeast of New Plymouth, included rare kamahi, northern rata, tawa and totara as well as lichens and mosses.

There is also burgeoning populations of kiwi, whio and falcons. . . 

Farmer confidence lifting but concerns over policy remain – Maja Burry:

Farmer confidence has lifted after three consecutive quarters of decline, but it still remains in negative territory.

Rabobank’s first quarterly Rural Confidence Survey for the year – completed last month – has shown the nation’s net farmer confidence has risen to -9 percent, up from -15 percent recorded in the final quarter of 2018.

The bank’s general manager for country banking, Hayley Gourley said greater optimism among dairy farmers was the major driver of the improved overall confidence reading.

“In the last survey of 2018, we saw 34 percent of dairy farmers expecting conditions in the agricultural economy to worsen and only 13 percent expecting an improvement, however, since then we’ve seen a long run of consecutive jumps in the Global Dairy Trade price index,” Ms Gourley said. . . 

Seasonal labour shortage declared for BOP kiwifruit industry:

Declaration is for 15 April until 27 May 2019.

• As of today, overseas visitors can apply to vary the conditions of their visitor visa to allow up to six weeks of seasonal work in kiwifruit in the Bay of Plenty.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) supports the Ministry of Social Development’s (MSD) declaration of a labour shortage for the kiwifruit industry in the Bay of Plenty and the extension of the labour shortage in the Hawkes Bay. The BOP declaration announced today is for the period 15 April until 27 May 2019. . .

Beef + Lamb well placed for the future:

Beef + Lamb NZ has the correct strategies in place to help the sector successfully navigate its way through the next couple of years, says chair Andrew Morrison.

“But it is going to require focus and there will be some hard decisions,” he warned.

“As an organisation, we are now trying to constantly look ahead at the challenges coming, do the research about those challenges and come up with strategies to influence the responses and outcomes to them.”  . .

Self-importing fertiliser is risky business, warns the Fertiliser Quality Council:

The Fertiliser Quality Council of New Zealand (FQC) is urging anyone contemplating importing fertiliser themselves to think again. The organisation, which is responsible for Fertmark, the fertiliser auditing programme that verifies products so users can be certain they know what they are spreading on their pasture, says importing fertiliser for individual on-farm use is fraught with risk.

Anders Crofoot, Chairman of the FQC, explains that the temptation to import fertiliser for private farm use is often driven by cost. However, he warns farmers and growers not to be fooled by ‘cheap’ ticket prices displayed online. . . 

Survey results will detail farmers’ changing attitudes to climate change:

Survey results on how farmers’ understanding of climate change and its impacts have changed over the last decade will be released at the New Zealand Agricultural Climate Change Conference 2019 (NZACCC), in Palmerston North on April 8-9.

The results will also reveal how farmers are now viewing greenhouse gas mitigation efforts in agriculture and give their views on the effective communication of climate change science. . . 


Rural round-up

December 13, 2018

Bill’s passage clears way for Dam construction:

The passing of the Tasman District Council (Waimea Water Augmentation Scheme) Bill has cleared the way for the construction to begin on the largest dam to be built in New Zealand for more than 20 years, Nelson MP Nick Smith says.

“The Bill passed by 112 – 8 votes and clears the way for a sustainable solution to the regions long standing water problems.

“The passage of this Bill concludes a 17-year tortuous process for developing and gaining approval for a sustainable solution for the regions water problems. This Bill resolves the last issue of access to the conservation and LINZ land. . . 

Govt adopts National’s Bill to stop livestock rustling:

Rangitikei MP Ian McKelvie is pleased that his Sentencing (Livestock Rustling) Amendment Members Bill has been adopted by the Government as a Supplementary Order Paper on the Crimes Amendment Bill.

“Stock rustling is a crime that cuts to the heart of many rural families and the farming community.

“Theft of livestock from farms or property is estimated to cost the farming community over $120 million a year. More recently, the risk to farms of Mycoplasma bovis spreading through stock theft has added strength to the call to take action. . . 

Something festive for Fonterra farmers? A hint of solace would be a start… – Point of Order:

Fonterra’s  suppliers will be choking on their  Xmas  rations, as they  digest the  price  blows  the co-op  has delivered.  First,  the dairy giant has  revised down  its  forecast milk payout  range  for the season to $6-$6.30 from the  earlier  $6.25-$6.50, and, second,  it is clawing back  some of the $4.15/kg  advance payment  rate.

Farmers  in  January will be paid  $4/kg for the  milk they supplied in  December plus the  co-op  is  clawing  back  15c/kg for all the  milk  supplied   between  June and November.

It  is  not   surprising that farmers   with  costs of  production  running   at  or above  $6/kg  are  reported to  be  “shocked”  and  “angry”.   Even those  efficient  operators   who have  lower  operating costs  won’t be happy  with   Fonterra  saying it  “appreciates”  the budgeting impact  the updated $4 advance rate will have on farmers in  January.  . . 

The facts about nitrogen in horticulture – Mike Chapman:

Stuff recently gave space to an opinion piece from Glen Herud, a dairy farmer, which had a number of inaccurate references to the use of nitrogen in horticulture and horticulture practices in general (Stuff, December 4, 2018).

 It is important to note, the primary industries are working together to address both the real and the perceived impacts of food production on the environment. At Horticulture New Zealand, we are sitting down and talking to key Government Ministers and their officials from the relevant government agencies to look at the best ways to clean up waterways and address climate change. This is how the best policies will continue to be made.

 In his opinion piece, Mr Herud’s numbers and references to research are unsubstantiated. I don’t want this to be a science class, but there is a lot of misinformation about nitrogen being spread around and it is essential to deal in facts, backed by science. . . 

Getting a buzz out of dairying – Samantha Tennent,:

Michael McCombs has had success by putting himself out therein the NZ Dairy Industry Awards, FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest and the Young Farmers Excellence Awards just by doing his thing and loving the journey along the way. Samantha Tennent reports.

A geography class trip sealed the deal for Michael McCombs  – he knew dairy farming was where he wanted to be. He grew up in Upper Hutt, attending Upper Hutt College and from a young age had always planned to become a farmer.

It was a 220-cow farm near Carterton he’d visited with school and thought to himself he’d love to work there.  The following summer holidays he did. It was a once-a-day herd and the owner, Dave Hodder, recommended Michael look at the Taratahi training farm.

“I wasn’t enjoying school and was looking at my options. I landed a spot on the training farm so left school at the end of year 11.” . . 

Milmeq sale expected to expand service offering:

Privately-held New Zealand engineering company Milmeq Limited, a designer and manufacturer of meat processing equipment, will be split and sold in the coming months, but it doesn’t mean the end of the brand. An agreement was signed at the end of last week for the sale of Milmeq’s chilling and freezing capability to New Zealand-listed company Mercer Group Limited, effective from 1 March 2019.

Chairman Ralph Marshall describes the sale as a good move for staff, customers and suppliers.

“Being purchased by a publicly-listed company, with a range of complementary products, positions Milmeq equipment well for future growth. We have been nimble over the years, always innovating to meet market needs, but we anticipate this innovation will further accelerate under the new owners.” . . 


Rural round-up

December 1, 2018

Big leap forward for New Zealand sheep genetics – Pat Deavoll:

Beef and Lamb New Zealand Genetics has launched a $5 million genetic evaluation system set to revolutionise the sheep breeding industry.

Beef and Lamb Genetics general manager Graham Alder said the new evaluation, named “single-step” was the result of four years of research.

“Single-step provides more accurate estimated breeding values in young animals,” Alder said.

“Breeders can work out a rams merit at birth rather than waiting for at least two years until the ram has lambs on the ground. . .

Milk and fires, a tricky combination – Samantha Tennent:

A Foxton Beach firefighter successfully combines fighting fires with milking. Samantha Tennent reports. 

Manawatu farmer and volunteer firefighter Tony Eade had been asleep for only a couple of hours when his pager and cellphone went off.

It was midnight and he was being called out to fight a fire. By the time the brigade put the fire out it was time to head to work. He left the site of the blaze and headed straight off to milk. . .

Telling farmers’ stories :

Every week Ash Robinson packs up his camera, overnight bag and gumboots and leaves his home in Auckland to go On Farm.

It’s his dream job. “It combines my passions for filming and farming.”

Equipped with the knowledge he learned growing up on a sheep and beef farm he heads away to another rural region. . .

Industry offers variety of careers – Yvonne O’Hara:

In the 20 years since Janiene Bayliss and husband David Pratt established their Ata Mara vineyard near Cromwell, she has seen the Central Otago wine industry grow rapidly.

There are increasingly challenging hurdles to over-come and benefits to harvest.

She said challenges included finding more workers to fill the increasing number of seasonal and permanent vacancies and how to provide accommodation for them. . .

Warning to take steps to avoid crime – Richard Davison:

Those living rurally should be taking simple steps to avoid falling prey to current trends in country crime, police say.

Levels of most types of crime remained steady in rural South Otago, and on average police were dealing with an incident every week, Sergeant Robin Hutton, of Balclutha, said.

Because of the remoteness and isolation of many rural properties, a certain segment of criminals targeted them specifically, regarding them as “easy pickings”, he said. . . 

Arable prospects ploughing ahead:

Good seasonal prospects, stronger markets and an increased variety of crop options are putting the cropping sector on a good footing after a two tough years, with farmers optimistic returns will be buoyant for some time yet.

The industry’s latest survey the Arable Industry Marketing Initiative has given farmers and investors an insight to their sector’s success, with the sector appearing to be significantly more positive than only two years ago. . .


Rural round-up

May 6, 2018

Johan’s unusual job – Samantha tennent:

Johan Fourie always gets a kick telling people he works in the “sex industry”, particularly unsuspecting townies. His official role is the production farm manager for CRV Ambreed at Bellevue Farm in the Waikato.

The 26-year-old South African is responsible for the semen harvesting, animal health care and well-being and general semen production of CRV’s bulls.

There are around 160-180 bulls on the farm at any one time, with a maximum capacity of 250. The farm is set up in different parts; the internal barns and paddocks make up the EU Facility and the outer parts of the farm are the isolation and pre-quarantine areas. . . 

Century farmers to be recognised :

The New Zealand Century Farm and Station Awards committee in Lawrence, Otago, is preparing for its awards dinner in May where it will formally honour 32 families who have farmed their land for 100 years or more. Eleven are families that have kept their farm for 150 years.

 Also starting to filter through is land that was distributed under the Discharged Soldiers Settlement Act in 1915 which allowed returned servicemen to be granted farmland on generous terms and given access to cheap loans to develop.

Committee chairwoman Karen Roughan says the work ahead of these soldiers was immense. “Often the land the men were allocated was remote, densely forested with virgin bush and without easy access by road. Many of the soldier-settlers lacked farming experience, were undercapitalised and faced long periods of time on their own as they battled to build a new home and develop sustainable living off their land. A large percentage gave up and walked off the land, often with hefty mortgages owing. . .

Fonterra’s milk collection back 2% :

Fonterra’s milk collection this season is tracking 2% lower than in 2017, a steeper decline than for the industry as a whole and suggesting rivals have picked up more of the national milk pool.

Fonterra’s global dairy update says the company collected about 1.31 million kilograms of milk solids in New Zealand in the 10 months ended March 31. It expects production for the whole season ending May 31 will be down on the previous year at 1.5 million kg/MS, an improvement on its previous estimate of 1.48 million kg/MS. It cited difficult weather for the decline. Fonterra’s share of the national milk pool is about 82%. . . 

 

Entries Open for Pork, Bacon And Ham Awards:

New Zealand’s greatest butchers and meat producers will once again compete to showcase their unique skills and innovative products this June, with entries now open for this year’s New Zealand Pork, Bacon and Ham Awards.

The competition – which draws hundreds of entries from butchers, producers and deli owners nationwide – will present awards for Innovative Pork, Convenient Pork, as well as a range of categories featuring prime New Zealand bacon and ham.

CEO David Moffett says NZ Pork founded the awards to provide retailers the opportunity to showcase their very best PigCareTM Accredited New Zealand pork products. . . 

This ‘climate beneficial’ wool hat comes from carbon positive sheep – Adele Peters:

At the southern end of the Surprise Valley on the border of California and Nevada, Bare Ranch looks essentially like it did in the early 1900s: sheep and cattle grazing on broad fields under a backdrop of mountains. But because of some subtle changes, the ranch now produces what’s being marketed as “climate beneficial” wool.

The wool–which The North Face is using in a new beanie with the tagline, “Warm your dome, not the globe”–is produced in a way that allows the ranchers to sequester large amounts of carbon as they raise sheep. In a year, Bare Ranch’s methods will sequester around 4,000 metric tons of CO2, offsetting the emissions from roughly 850 cars. . . 

Latest study confirms an animal-free food system is not holistically sustainable – Sara Place:

Let’s be clear, a healthy and sustainable food system depends on having both plants and animals. Researchers at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and Virginia Tech just published a study in the Proceedings of National Academies of Sciences confirming this socially debated fact. The study examined what our world would look like without animal agriculture in the U.S. The bottom line? We’d reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by 2.6 percent, and 0.36 percent globally[1] — but we’d also upset our balanced food ecosystem and lack essential dietary nutrients to feed all Americans.

One important role livestock — such as cattle — play in our sustainable food system is taking human inedible food and ultimately making it nutritious. Specifically, cattle act as upcyclers — meaning they eat grasses and plant matter leftover from human food production and upgrade them into nutritional, high-quality protein. In fact, they produce 19 percent more edible protein than they consume[2]. . . 

 


Rural round-up

September 19, 2017

Guiney misses out on selection – Hugh Stringleman:

One long-serving director and two newcomers are the preferred candidates for three Fonterra board seats this year leaving sitting board member Leonie Guiney out in the cold.

They were former Fonterra Shareholders Council chairman and nine-year director John Monaghan, of Wairarapa, former Deer Industry New Zealand chairman and farm consultant Andy Macfarlane of Mid-Canterbury and PWC partner and National Fieldays Society board member Brent Goldsack, of Waikato.

The three were named as independent nomination process candidates for three vacancies among seven farmer-director seats on the Fonterra board. . .

Palmerston North farmer Peter Bills owns more machines than most – Samantha Tennent:

Not many contractors or services agents come through the gate of Te Rata Farm at Linton, owned by Peter and Kim Bills. The Bills try to be as self-sufficient as possible across their business.

The Bills run a pretty taut ship, keeping costs down by doing all their own cultivation, mowing and bailing. They admit they own more gear than the average 260-cow farm; almost the only piece of equipment they don’t have is a harvester.

“It keeps costs down for us but more importantly we aren’t relying on a contractor to get the work done. . .

Weather hits somber pea growers – Annette Scott:

There’s been no compensation for Wairarapa pea growers heading into their second season of a two-year pea moratorium.

And on top of wet weather that meant they could not get crops in the ground put farmers in a pretty sombre mood, Wairarapa cropping farmer Karen Williams said.

Williams, the 2017 Biosecurity Farmer of the Year, was an integral part of the grower group working alongside farmers and the Ministry for Primary Industries in the pea weevil response. . .

Restrictions lifted on feijoas in Taranaki after being cleared of myrtle rust threat – Gerald Piddock:

Feijoa lovers can breathe a sigh of relief after ministry officials put the plant in the low risk category for infection from myrtle rust.

Growers will also be relieved after the Ministry for Primary Industries lifted restrictions for moving feijoa plants in and out of Taranaki after it concluded there was little risk of them spreading myrtle rust.

Since myrtle rust was found in New Zealand earlier this year, there had not been a single feijoa plant found with the infection, the New Zealand Plant Producers Incorporated said in a statement. . .

From milk to medicine with DFE Pharma – a farmer’s journey from Taranaki to Europe:

Under the mountain in Kapuni, Taranaki, our farmers’ milk is being made into something pretty remarkable.

Our Kapuni site focuses on producing pharmaceutical lactose, a key ingredient in inhalers helping people around the world manage their asthma.

The lactose we make at Kapuni is the most pure lactose you can make in the world. And in short, gets the medicine in powder inhalers to where it’s needed – the lungs. . . 


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