Rural round-up

23/07/2021

Urban dwellers lack of knowledge of the work farmers do for the environment distressing – Jacqueline Rowarth:

A rat race is an endless, self-defeating, or pointless pursuit. The term was coined in the early 1930s, but in Alice Through the Looking Glass, published in the early 1870s, Lewis Carroll had the Red Queen tell Alice that “here it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run twice as fast as that”.

That is the point of the “howl of a protest” that was made by the convoy of tractors, utes and dogs last week.

Farmers were expressing frustration at the deluge of regulations and paperwork.

The work they do for the environment is being overlooked. . . 

Full of pride for mother in ute with dogs – Anna Campbell:

Climate change is a global problem, a problem shared and a problem far bigger than New Zealand politics.

Climate change is a problem that the majority of farmers recognise, one in which many are adapting to daily in dealing with the increasing numbers of droughts and floods. Farmers are improving their environments by changing their farming practices, whether that be fencing waterways, developing Land and Environmental Plans, planting trees or altering winter grazing practices. Change on-farm is happening at a significant scale across the country.

On Friday morning, I was worried about the Groundswell farmer protest, I was worried that it would look like farmers were trying to shirk their responsibility and avoid change, despite what they are already doing and despite their plans for doing more. I was worried farmers would look like rednecks and I was worried about the ever-increasing rural-urban chasm. Let’s not call this a divide any more.

On Friday, I apprehensively left my centrally heated office to stand in the Octagon and lend my support to the protest — who knew Otago had so many farmers? . . 

This might have been our first successful farmer protest – Craig Hickman:

I’ve never made a secret of the fact I’m no fan of farmer protests; there had never been a successful one in my living memory and there has been a tendency recently for them to backfire and paint farmers in a bad light, usually as ignorant racist misogynists.

People fondly recall Shane Ardern driving his tractor up the steps of Parliament in 2003 to defeat the proposed “Fart Tax”. They point to this as an example of a resounding success.

I don’t know how you measure success, and sure the Government of the day appeared to back down, but there’s the small issue that the protest didn’t actually work. While farmers weren’t asked to pay for emissions research via taxation, our industry bodies agreed to pay for it via levies instead, with the Government reserving the right to reconsider the tax should payments ever stop.

Not only is it difficult to measure whether a protest has been successful, they can be harmful too. . .

Grimes’ grouches with the effects of govt policies on Kiwis’ wellbeing may sting more than the Groundswell protest – Point of Order:

The  Ardern  government may  have been  stirred,  but  it  wasn’t  shaken,    by  the  nationwide protest  by  farmers  last  Friday.  And no matter how  far  the protest may have  turned   heads   in  the  rest  of  the  population,   it  leaves  farmers  no  further   advanced  in  persuading  ministers  to  modify  or  revise  the  policies  which  their  action targeted.

So  if  ministers  won’t  back  down  on their  environmental reforms or their climate change  policies,  where   can  the  farmers  go?  Parade  through  Wellington  to  Parliament?   Mount a 24-hour  vigil  in  Parliament  Grounds?

So  far  there has  been   silence  from the  originators   of  the   Groundswell  and if  there  is  a  new  sense of  unity  in  the  rural regions,   it   has yet  to  be  channelled into the  kind  of  pressure that   automatically  achieves  change. . . 

The little-known world of sheep and beef by-products and co-products:

There’s more to beef and lamb than steaks and Sunday Roasts

When you think about meat processing it would be no surprise that the first output you thought about, was food. But what happens to the rest of the carcass? The parts that are not suitable or desired for consumption? That is where byproducts and co-products come in.

Referred to in the industry as the ‘fifth quarter’ co-products (materials intended for human consumption) and byproducts (materials that can be edible and non-edible) are valuable and account for over half of a carcass. These co-products extract maximum value and minimise waste.

With new technology and innovation, the use and application of co-products are constantly developing across a range of industries. Where once tallow was used for soap and candle making, now it is being converted to create a biofuel that burns cleaner and reduces emissions. . . 

Talk of the Town: How country mums are using social media to shift from the good paddock – Samantha Townsend:

Mum, I don’t want to be mean but I reckon that (weight loss program) will really benefit you. You are like really beautiful but you have a big bottom”.

That’s what my eight-year-old daughter told me at the start of this year while watching television one night.

Now I’ve certainly been in a good paddock and I can’t blame my kids anymore, it’s been six years since nappies.

But it made me think about the power of advertising and social media, and how it influences our lives these days. . .


Rural round-up

22/06/2021

Farmers’ $3500 flood clean-up grants ‘disappointing’ – Sally Murphy:

Canterbury farmers who are still cleaning up after the floods earlier this month are being offered $3500.

Heavy rain caused rivers in the region to flood, ripping out fences, washing away feed and depositing huge amounts of shingle on some farms.

The government declared an adverse event and allocated $500,000 to help those affected; $100,000 to three Rural Support Trusts in the area, $350,000 making up the Canterbury Flood Response Fund and $50,000 set aside for other recovery support.

Staff from the Ministry for Primary Industries, councils and industry organisations have been on the ground assessing flood damage on farms. . . 

Govt’s plan for natural areas a brewing scandal – Mike Hosking:

I have become interested in the government’s Significant Natural Areas debacle.

It’s made news of late because of James Shaw appearing to mislead people over how much is or isn’t going on at local council level and the weekend’s protest at Kaikohe.

By way of background, this all began under Nick Smith in 2017. A SNA is basically what is says, important remnants of native habitat. The problem is the councils get to decide what to do with it; remember this is your land.

Once they decide it’s significant, you’re stuck. Existing activity can continue, but future activity is severely curtailed. . .

Meet the 2021 Fieldays Innovation Awards winners :

Winners at the 2021 Fieldays Innovation Awards have shown how Kiwi ingenuity and cutting-edge ideas are tackling the primary industry’s biggest challenges.

The winners were announced June 17, after more than 65 entries were received from across New Zealand.

The awards had a new format for 2021, after Covid-19 saw the 2020 event hosted online, Fieldays Innovation Event Manager Gail Hendricks said.

“Categories were organised to follow the innovation life cycle and provide the support, mentoring and exposure innovators needed to bring their revolutionary products to market or grow market share.” . . 

Taieri holidays inspired career path – Shawn McAvinue:

An Australian boy’s dream of a career in the pastoral industries was born during an annual working holiday on a Strath Taieri farm.

The dream was realised by using the tools of science.

Jason Archer joined the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics team at the start of this month.

Dr Archer was born and raised in Australia. . . 

‘Back from the brink’: Vet pulls out all the stops for calf – Sally Rae:

Warning – this is a heartwarming story.

When Oamaru vet George Smith got called to a sick calf on a North Otago dairy farm late last month, it was a standard callout.

But on arrival, dairy farmer Nathan Bayne told him the 4-day-old heifer was the most valuable calf he had ever had and was possibly worth more than $50,000.

Mr Bayne and his wife Amanda, from Henley Farming Co, own the prominent stud Busybrook Holsteins, near Duntroon, which recently held its “platinum edition” sale which generated turnover of $863,000 and a top price of $38,000. . . 

Rural Aid supports farmers with $1000 grants in mouse plight – Samantha Townsend:

They were there in the drought, bushfires and floods, now Rural Aid is stepping in to help farmers battling the prolonged mouse plague.

The national rural charity has announced a $1 million fund to assist mouse plague affected farmers across the country, opening applications for $1000 grants.

“Whether you are a producer in Queensland or out the back of Wellington in NSW or in Victoria or South Australia, people have the common problem and that’s the mice,” Rural Aid CEO John Warlters told The Land.

Mr Warlters said the ongoing feedback they had been receiving was about the circumstances people have been confronted with in the mouse plague nightmare. . . 

 


Rural round-up

07/06/2021

‘More insulting than nothing’ – Govt cash not enough to fix single flood-struck station – Amber Allot:

Farmers in the Canterbury high country are dismissing as “woefully inadequate” a $500,000 fund from the government to restore their stations after they were hammered by rain.

Canterbury was battered by torrential rain on Saturday afternoon, with no reprieve until Monday evening. For some areas, up to half the usual annual rainfall fell in two days.

It has devastated much of the region, leaving huge swathes of land under water, animals dead and properties flooded, forcing many evacuations.

Rail and road infrastructure is also badly damaged, with repairs likely to cost tens of millions of dollars, while the region’s farmers face a huge clean-up bill. . . 

Rabbits not on Government’s radar – Jacqui Dean:

 Last year, $315 million dollars was directed to pest and weed control as part of the Government’s $1.2 billion Jobs for Nature programme. The fact that none of this money has gone towards targeting rabbits leaves me bewildered.

The recent images coming in from Australia of mice in their millions threatening homes and farms across New South Wales has been shocking to many New Zealanders.

But for people across large parts of the South Island, a plague of pests is their reality too, with rabbits running rampant across parts of North Otago, Central Otago and further afield.

Rabbits are an ecological disaster. . . 

Feds survey: Branch closures add to farmers’ bank concerns:

Concern about branch closures can be added to the continued slide in farmers’ satisfaction with their banks, the latest Federated Farmers Banking Survey shows.

More than 1,100 farmers responded to the May survey and 71% of them said they were concerned about bank branch closures. Of those who were concerned, 42% said they needed branches to carry out their business and 56% were worried about the impact of closures on their local communities.

“Provincial towns are under all sorts of pressures, with workforce gaps, farms jobs disappearing as productive land is planted out in pines for carbon credits, competition from on-line sales trends that all traditional retailers face, to name some of the factors,” Federated Farmers President and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

“Bank branch closures are just another hit on confidence, making doing business in rural areas that much harder, and another reason for young people to look to cities for their future when agriculture is the main way New Zealand earns its living in the world.” . . 

Farmers flock to see Wiltshire wool-less sheep benefits – Maja Burry:

It is hoped a multi-year study on a research farm near Masterton will give farmers a better understanding of the benefits and costs of shifting to a wool-less flock.

Massey University animal science professor Steve Morris said with the increased costs of shearing and ongoing poor returns for strong wool, many farmers were considering a transition to Wiltshire sheep, which naturally shed their fleece.

Morris said farmers were getting about $2-$2.50 a kilogram for crossbred wool and modelling showed prices needed to double for farmers to break even and cover the costs of shearing.

“We’re a long way off that and shearing costs are going up.” . . 

Plant & Food Research mentoring initiative wins HRNZ Award:

Our in-house mentoring initiative won the award for Learning and Development Capability at The Human Resources Institute of New Zealand (HRNZ) national awards.

The initiative provides a formal system to create more value and impact from mentoring relationships among staff. Since a successful pilot of the programme in 2018, 70 mentoring relationships have been established

During the programme participants explore their career aspirations with their mentor and create a development plan. Included is a 2-day opening workshop, mentoring sessions throughout the year and a closing workshop. . . 

Biocontrol gene tech set to shred mice population – Samantha Townsend:

A technique that exploits the natural mating process in mice, which has previously been proven in insects is being explored to help reduce populations.

The technology aims to pass on an increased proportion of males genes to reduce the number of females to keep populations at manageable levels.

“The new technology we are trying to develop in mice is the same that we’ve had some success in this area for insects for malaria control,” lead researcher Professor Paul Thomas from the University of Adelaide said.

“The idea is that we using the natural mating process of mice to spread genetic traits through the population.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

27/05/2020

Dairy farmers will be in the vanguard of NZ’s economic recovery – but it looks like they shouldn’t count on much govt help – Point of Order:

NZ’s  dairy  industry  has  a   clear  role  to  play  as  one  of  the   country’s saviours in the  battle to recover  from the global impact of the  Covid-19 pandemic — even if there is  little evidence  that ministers  in the coalition government recognise  its  importance.

The industry, as  it has  done so  often  before,  will  just have to  do  it on  its own.

Luckily, the giant co-op,  Fonterra,   has  stabilised,  after racking up a  massive  $600m  loss  last year and there’s  a refreshed sense  of  where the  dairy industry  stands  in the  economy’s  hierarchy,  as  other pillars (tourism, international  education, air transport, construction)  tumble  over the  pandemic precipice.  Morale  at  the   grassroots  level  is  rising  again. . . 

Rushed log legislation deserves the chop:

Federated Farmers and the Forest Owners Association are joining forces to condemn the Log Brokers Bill as a Trojan horse to potentially force farmers and foresters to subsidise local processing industries from reduced export earnings.

The unwarranted rush over the Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Bill risks unintended consequences, including retaliatory action by nations we trade with, Federated Farmers forestry spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

The period for consultation is tighter than even the emergency actions on high-powered automatic firearms spurred by the Christchurch mosque attacks. . . 

Agility and innovation essential for meat exporters – Allan Barber:

The days of bemoaning our meat exporters’ lack of flexibility when everything was exported as frozen carcases are now a distant memory. Even the days of growing the profitable chilled lamb business without upsetting the EU authorities are receding into the distant past, as meat marketers cope with the complexities of marketing to previously time poor, technologically sophisticated consumers around the world now living in lockdown without ready access to restaurants.

AFFCO Group Sales and Marketing Manager, Mark de Lautour, sees the Covid-19 pandemic as a critical point in time which will result in a permanent shift in buying habits, placing huge emphasis on further processing capacity and weight ranging capability. He sees online as a distinct buying channel where consumers will not seek individually branded products, but a home solution delivered to the door. A local example of this trend is Auckland based Hyper Meat which offers three meat packs for home delivery at different price points, all at specific weights, as well as a range of wines and other beverages. . . .

Irrigation NZ congratulates David Bennett:

IrrigationNZ wishes to congratulate David Bennett as he takes on the agricultural portfolio for the National Party.

The announcement came today as new National Party Leader, Todd Muller, revealed the line-up of the new look National Party caucus.

Mr Bennett takes over from Mr Muller, who was previously in the role. . .

Never let a good crisis go to waste: How our food sector can save NZ’s economy – Rosie Bosworth:

The world will always need food, and New Zealand is enviably positioned to capitalise on this, writes future foods expert Rosie Bosworth – but we need to take a few big steps first. 

It’s a bittersweet moment for New Zealand. As a nation we’ve collectively worked hard to successfully flatten the curve (for now). But for many Kiwi businesses and industries, the economic aftermath of Covid-19 has not been pretty. As with many countries, there have been winners and losers. With some of New Zealand’s top export-earning industries – like international tourism and education, which contribute $16.2 and $5.1 billion respectively to our GDP – having been effectively decommissioned in the wake of Covid, New Zealand must now focus on its other economic heavyweights to help even up the balance sheets.

Now more than ever, our thriving agriculture and food and beverage sectors will be key economic lifelines for the country and crucial points of job creation for hundreds, if not thousands, of Covid-displaced New Zealanders hungry for work. Why? Because the world will always need food. Natural, honest, trusted products that New Zealand is enviably positioned to produce better than any other nation on the planet. Especially in a Covid world, where consumers globally are increasingly seeking immune-boosting, healthy and sustainable products. . . 

Next generation focused on improving dairy reproduction – Samantha Townsend:

When the Yarringtons’ ancestors built their farm with their bare hands the biggest technology at the time was horse and cart.

Six generations later, Rod and his wife Natasha, began using semex AI24 collar systems in February – real time information and reproductive performance technology to improve heat detection and in-calf rates. 

“Getting our cows back in calf was one of our biggest inefficiencies because with just the two of us on the farm, it was hard to be everywhere,” Mrs Yarrington said. . .

 


Rural round-up

02/05/2020

Ongoing drought is bleeding us dry – Rhea Dasent:

We are living through exceptional times, and the drought of 2020 is one of the exceptions – and not in a good way.

Businesses affected by the coronavirus lockdown understand how farmers feel about the drought.

Being unable to trade due to external influences puts you not just on the back foot, but several feet behind, for the rest of the year or even longer.

Tourism businesses rely on a good summer with lots of customers in order to have the income to get through the low winter season. Farmers have good and bad seasons too, and hope that it all evens out.

But the lockdown and this drought have taken the usual seasonal ups and downs to a whole new level. . . 

Overseas markets holding up – Allan Barber:

In a recent conversation, Alliance CEO David Surveyor described world red meat markets by comparing them to traffic lights. Contrary to the evidence earlier in the year, when buyers stopped buying because of Chinese New Year closely followed by the Covid-19 shutdown, China has emerged as the brightest light with the traffic lights firmly set on green. The composition of Chinese orders has changed since the virus outbreak with retail and online sales growing considerably, while there are signs of hot pot outlets starting to reopen.

Silver Fern Farms’ Simon Limmer agrees with this assessment, although he cautions against assuming there won’t be a risk of a market reversal at some point. For the time being China is a saviour, in spite of meat exporters’ wish not to put too many eggs in the same basket. This is not a time to pick and choose though. The rest of Asia is also quite strong with demand for grass fed beef holding up well in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and South East Asia. . .

Changing patterns in food supply must be addressed – Anna Campbell:

I have been reading and listening to reports and podcasts on the impact of Covid-19 on food supply and buying patterns.

It is interesting to note that most of these trends were identified as trends before Covid-19, but the pandemic has massively shifted the dial in terms of the pace of change. We are likely to see many of these shifts sustained in the Covid-19 recovery and beyond.

1. In the United States, Covid-19 has increased the dominance of the large food players such as Walmart and Amazon (which owns Whole Foods). Small grocery chains and independents, before Covid-19, made up 40% of the grocery sector — this is rapidly shrinking. Workers within the large chains are negotiating higher pay and, in general, profit margins on grocery products are decreasing. This will make it harder for small players to compete, especially without the benefits of robotics and artificial intelligence systems. . . 

Four Dairy Women’s Network Regional Leader finalists:

Grassroots dairy farming leadership efforts from throughout New Zealand are represented by the four finalists in the Dairy Women’s Network new DWN Regional Leader of the Year award.

The finalists are spread from the north of the North Island where Sue Skelton is farming south west of Whangarei near Waiotira to Jessica Goodwright who is sharemilking in Drummond in Central Southland.

Mid-Canterbury farmer and personal development coach Tania Burrows and North Canterbury contract milker Rebecca Green are the other two finalists that represent over 70 volunteer Dairy Women’s Network Regional Leaders spread throughout the country. . .

High yields in difficult season a credit to NZ’s arable farmers:

Yields for the 2020 harvest are up 16 percent across the board when compared to 2019, the latest Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI) survey shows.

Particularly encouraging was the fact fewer hectares were planted in total this season compared to last (98,090 ha vs 104,000) yet tonnes harvested were substantially up (873,080 vs 796,700), Federated Farmers Vice-Chairperson Grains, Brian Leadley, said.

“This is in despite of a severe early season hailstorm, flooding in some regions and some pretty variable weather.  It just highlights that our arable farmers are world class,” Brian said. . .

Muttonbird hunters expect prices to go up as season cut short by lockdown – Te Aniwa Hurihanganui:

Eager muttonbird hunters are hoping to get a flight out to the Tītī / Muttonbird Islands as soon possible, with alert level 3 now opening a small window of opportunity to gather the delicious tītī before the season is over.

Muttonbirds are in hot demand every year, but with alert level 4 putting the season on hold, hunters now have just two weeks before the birds leave the island in early May.

Tony McColgan from Invercargill usually collects up to 2000 birds a year; he thought the season was over when the lockdown began. . . 

Investing in cows grows wealth in dairy – Samantha Townsend:

It might have taken the Nicholsons 30 years to put their name on the mortgage but it was an investment well worth the wait for the next generation.

Megan and Geoff Nicholson started their dairy journey as lease farmers in 1989 having moved back to her home town of Taree from the United Kingdom where they met.

Geoff was from a beef, sheep and cropping farm but neither of us had particular dairy experience but we decided to give it go and loved it ,” Mrs Nicholson said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

12/09/2019

Nurture our nature workers – Dr Tom Mulholland:

Over the past 20 years I have had the pleasure and privilege of working as a doctor in rural communities and, more recently, in my mobile ambulance. From D’Urville Island to the Chathams, Kaitāia to Bluff on remote sheep stations and arable farms I have seen how farmers toil and, more recently, boil at the ever-increasing pressure put on them.

None was more evident than on a recent trip to a remote valley that must be one of the most beautiful places on Earth. It was picture-perfect, completely surrounded by snow-capped mountains under a crisp blue sky and with gurgling azure rivers. The air was clean and, with not a person or car in sight, it was the antithesis of urban life. I relaxed instantly as I  took in  the vista,  my lungs filling with mountain air.

However, the humans trying to  make a living in this stunning but harsh environment are far from relaxed. Scanning ewes, compliance and pastoral chores dealing with stakeholders, and the ever-increasing demands of conservation and people’s opinion make it an even tougher life. . .

Taming the black dog – Luke Chivers:

In the past year 685 people died by suicide. But the number of Kiwis affected by those deaths is almost immeasurable. Elle Perriam, 22, knows what it’s like to lose a loved one. She spoke to Luke Chivers.

The last memory Elle Perriam has of her boyfriend Will is of him laughing, making jokes and creating plans for the weekend.

Days later, he died by suicide. He was just 21.

It was a loss that came out of the blue for everyone who knew him, with aftershocks of grief and loss that rippled from his immediate family and through the wider community. . . 

Struggling youth ‘didn’t want to be judged‘ – Sally Brooker and Gus Patterson:

If Sam Robinson had his way, talking about your feelings would be a school subject.

The 29-year-old who grew up on a farm near Methven is itching to get his message across to mental health professionals and educators, as well as the rural people he spoke to during the recent Will to Live Speak Up tour.

Sam joined Will to Live founder Elle Perriam on the tour of 17 towns throughout the country.

Agricultural worker Elle established Will to Live last year to boost awareness of rural mental health issues after her boyfriend, shepherd Will Gregory, took his own life.

Sam told the Kurow gathering he had battled depression since 2008 but kept it to himself for a long time. That just compounded it.

”I was head boy, in the First XV and First XI – on the outside it looked like I had it all. . . 

Sustainability audits are next – Alan Williams:

Beef farmers will increasingly have to prove their farming systems meet sustainability rules, Rabobank says in its latest quarterly report.

The last 12 months has seen a noticeable step-up in the number and variety of mostly market-led initiatives as beef production comes under more scrutiny over the impact on animals and environment.

The impetus is coming from food retailers, food service companies, processors and producers in response to the changing dynamics, it said. 

And the pace of change will increase further. . . 

Fifty farms to take action:

New nitrogen-reducing project protecting waterways in Canterbury has nationwide relevance.

In the next two years, it is hoped 50 Canterbury dairy farms will be playing a leading role in some key research to further reduce nitrogen leaching into waterways.

Along with all the work dairy farmers are doing to look after their waterways, farmers nationally will be able to follow the project, called Meeting a Sustainable Future, which will focus on how farmers in Hinds and Selwyn can meet nitrogen loss limits and maintain profitable businesses under the Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan (LWRP).

The project will build on sustainable farming initiatives many farmers have already begun and an official project launch event was held recently on a Canterbury dairy farm.

Under the LWRP, Selwyn farmers must reduce nitrogen losses by 30 per cent by 2022 and in Hinds by 15 per cent by 2025, 25 per cent by 2030 and 36 per cent by 2035. . . 

Hawke’s Bay: Rockit apple’s China store takeover earns top accolade :

Innovative Hawke’s Bay apple company Rockit Global Limited has received top international honours at the Asia Fruit Logistica Expo 2019.

The company, recognised across the world for its miniature Rockit apple variety, went home with the Asia Fruit Award for Marketing Campaign of the Year from the Hong Kong event last week.

The company’s general manager global marketing Sandi Boyden said it was a huge thrill to have been acknowledged for the impact Rockit has had within Asia’s fresh fruit and vegetable sector, principally in China, which now accounts for around 50 per cent of Rockit’s global sales. . . 

Kempsey high school students go on farm for work placement –  Samantha Townsend:

At a time when dairy farmers are faced with low milk prices and high input costs due to the ongoing drought – there is a ray of hope.

High schools students at Kempsey are opting to do work placement on farms including dairies where they see first-hand where their food comes from.

According to 2019 figures from Education Minister Sarah Mitchell’s office there are 3835 year 11 and 12 enrollments for agriculture, 1903 for marine studies (including aquaculture) and 2727 studying primary industries. . . 


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