Rural round-up

July 2, 2018

Mycoplasma bovis: battle fatigue is growing but Government claims to be resolute – Keith Woodford:

Last week I was in Wellington speaking to Federated Farmers Dairy Council.    It gave me an opportunity to assess persistent rumours that Government and MPI were losing confidence in relation to the Mycoplasma eradication battle.

I heard both Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor say that they were resolute in their determination to eradicate the disease. Whether or not public positions and private concerns coincide could be another matter.

Everything I heard reinforced my concern that there is a gulf between the information MPI is providing Government and the realities of the situation. . . 

IHC calf scheme could be culled due to M bovis – Rachael Kelly:

A fundraising scheme that raises more than $1m a year for the IHC could become a victim of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak.

Since 1984 about 4,000 farmers nationwide have donated cull cows, steers, bulls, heifers, calfs, bale of wools, lambs, sheep, goats, and deer  to the charity.

The stock is then sold and the proceeds are donated to IHC.

But farmers raised concerns about the scheme at a meeting in Gore last week, which was hosted by MPI, Beef & Lamb NZ and Dairy NZ, saying the IHC’s stock sales could transmit M. bovis between stock, therefore transferring it between farms. . .

Loss of wool training organisation keenly felt – Sally Rae:

The demise of Te Ako Wools is a “significant blow” for the wool industry, Federated Farmers says.

The organisation, which was launched in Alexandra in mid-2016, was owned by the New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association. It worked with Primary ITO to provide industry training, including shearing and woolhandling.

Training, attracting and retaining people in the industry had continued to be a challenge, Federated Farmers meat and wool chairman Miles Anderson and policy adviser Sarah Crofoot said in their report to the organisation’s national conference in Wellington last week. Finding staff had become increasingly difficult and the situation was expected to  continue over the next five years, making training “all the more important”. .  .

Big cheeses from UK and US cleared to buy farms in NZ – Martin van Beynen:

Two titans of niche agricultural markets in America and England are investing in New Zealand after getting approval from the Overseas Investment Office (OIO). 

American millionaires Margaret and Gary Hirshberg, who are from New Hampshire and in their early 60s, have been cleared to buy 69ha in Ngatimoti, near Motueka, to set up an organic sheep farm and an organic market garden. They also intend to do extensive native planting. 

The sellers, Andrew Guy and Rowan and Sharon Kearns, got $4m for the property. . . 

No monsters – science backs the safety of GMO foods:

Remember all the warnings about genetically modified organisms? They’re bad for us; they harm the environment; there is too little oversight; they fail to increase yields; and they will do little to help feed the world.

GMOs are plants and animals whose DNA has been modified by genetic engineering. The process has allowed researchers to develop corn that can survive drought, soybeans that stand up to weed killer, virus-free papayas, and potatoes that don’t bruise — in short, countless varieties of crops that yield more and cost less to grow. That’s good news for farmers and for our food supply. . . .

Lightening strike kills a dozen cows sparks strange Facebook posts – Wyatt Bechtel:

A lightning strike on a ranch in Oklahoma was not only a tragedy for the owners, but it also turned into a reminder of the lack of knowledge most people have about livestock production.

Jason Donathan, a cattle rancher from Henryetta, OK shared a photo with KOTV Channel 6 in Tulsa showing approximately 12 dead cattle under a tree. The group of primarily cows was killed by a lightning strike.

KOTV meteorologist Lacey Swope shared the picture on her Facebook page on June 24. . .

 


Social licence to operate

July 14, 2015

Sarah Crofoot Federated Farmers’ Meat & Fibre & Environmental policy advisor on the social licence to operate:

With each generation the urban population becomes further removed from rural New Zealand. Gone are the days when holidays were spent visiting friends and family out on the farm, learning of what we do.

Consumers are hungry for information about where their food comes from. The door is open for us to tell our story, but if we don’t, someone else will.

The ‘conflict industry’ groups like SAFE and Greenpeace are happy to fill the void with half-truths, misinformation, sound bites and powerful imagery of the extreme options.

They profit from people’s fear, their product is cash not stewardship as they would lead you to believe. They are dependent on crisis so are always searching for the next issue – with their websites firmly set on water and animal welfare.

These extreme opinions are being presented to a public with no natural resource linkage and no lens to look through for validity. So, that whole middle ground between the extremes is lost in the discussion.

Whatever the issue – be it animal welfare, health and safety, environment or employment, we need to tell our story.

We can’t afford to have the experts on the important issues facing agriculture be it celebrities with no practical understanding, or have policy made based on a vague idea of what they would like and no understanding of how it would work and the implications.

Our solutions need to be backed by science and we need to stand united with a common cry for common sense.

Sadly the ‘conflict industry’ groups, those with no practical understanding, with vague ideas and/or political agendas get traction without science but farming can’t nor should it.

We need to understand people’s concerns and address them, not just tell them what we want them to hear. We have a great story to tell but we need to learn to be comfortable leading the discussion and telling our story, not being part of a story the conflict industry creates for us. 

We need to help consumers understand what we do and that we strive to be great stewards. That if we take care of our land, plants and animals, they will take care of us and future generations.

As an industry we may not be perfect and we have all made mistakes, but providing for humans is an imperfect science and as imperfect as we maybe, we are the best, safest, most productive, efficient and environmentally sound food producers there has ever been in the history of man. We are the green choice but we need to help consumers understand why. We need to tell the whole truth, warts and all, and do it without tearing other industries down.

When having these discussions it is often forgotten how closely the environment and our economy are tied together. In fact they come from the same Greek root word ‘eco’ meaning house.

Inside is our economy; outside is our ecology, making up our environment. If you hit one the other pays the price. If we don’t have a healthy environment we can’t grow our economy. If we don’t have a healthy economy we don’t have the luxury of protecting the environment.

Why is it so difficult for people to understand that not only are a growing economy and environmental progress not mutually exclusive but interdependent?

We need to be proud of our heritage and share it with others. The calluses on your hands and dirt under your nails should be a source of pride as they helped to lay the foundations for the family business, community, and country, rather than a source of shame or guilt because others don’t understand what you do.

There were two truths learnt in the logging industry which are important for Federated Farmers and agriculture.

Democracy works, but it’s not a spectator sport – we need to stand together as a united front and support those who support us.
When leaders lead, people follow – we need to take a lead on the issues important to us and ensure the leaders understand the challenges;
Bruce Vincent led a call to arms, for every one of us to spend one hour a week advocating for our industry, showing up, being heard, telling our story, whether it is in the local media, social media, a letter to the editor, at a school, in local politics, chamber of commerce, or engaging with Federated Farmers helping to give power to a united voice.

The Federation is committed to this but we can’t do it without you. Your support is valued but we also need you to engage, whatever the issue your voice is crucial. We need a movement lead by rural people built of hope instead of fear; science instead of emotion; education instead of litigation; resolution instead of conflict; employing rather than destroying human resources.

If each of us takes an action we create a ripple. All of our ripples combine to create a current and together we can form a wave and create change and a vision for our future.

These wise words a young, rural woman give strong grounds for optimism for farming and the future.


The Land – your dream job

June 24, 2014

NZX-Agri has launched a nationwide campaign to shine the light on career opportunities in the primary sector:

The Land – Your Dream Job campaign was unveiled at the KPMG Agribusiness Leaders Breakfast at National Fieldays.

The campaign is being supported by Rabobank and KPMG research, which reveals a significant gap in the planning of many farming businesses, which could affect the productivity of one of New Zealand’s key primary industries.

“The campaign is a major initiative, which will bring into sharp focus the enormous range of opportunities the primary sector has to offer,” Young Country editor and campaign director Jackie Harrigan said.

“Meeting the challenge of attracting dynamic, entrepreneurial, and talented young people for our sector starts with exciting them with the diversity of career choices on offer, whether they are new to it or already part of it. 

“The sector caters for a wide range of people, from those who like hands-on work to those wanting to do a PhD.”

A campaign website – landyourdreamjob.co.nz – has been set up to provide resources and case studies to attract the brightest to the primary sector, Harrigan said. 

“The timing is absolutely right for this campaign. The Government has a commitment to doubling NZ’s primary sector export value by 2025 and it has recently been estimated this will create 50,000 new jobs, half of which will need a tertiary qualification. 

“We need to ensure young people want those jobs.” . . .

NZX Agri would be announcing a raft of initiatives during the campaign, through its publications, national and social media, and the campaign website, Harrigan said. 

A  Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram presence had been important to get to the target market of young people searching for career options, she said. . .

Industry partners Vocational Pathways, NZ Kiwifruit Growers, Silver Fern Farms, Allflex, and Ospri have joined NZX Agri to get career stories in front of secondary students by sponsoring three copies of Young Country magazine into 500 secondary schools nationwide, starting next month.

“Reaching school libraries, careers advisers, and teachers will mean these resources should be in front of students, showcasing young people already in the industry, and helping them make informed career choices,” editor Jackie Harrigan said.

New Zealand is more urbanised and fewer people live in the country of have links to farms which means many of the opportunities in primary industries aren’t on the radar of young people when they’re thinking about careers.

This is a wonderful initiative to help change that and provide the workforce that will be needed on farms and in the businesses which support and supply them as primary industries grow.

The website is full of interesting information and features young people in a variety of jobs including Alex Harper a marketing assistant and app creator, shepherd Megan Cathro, agricultural analyst Rob Gibson and Sarah Crofoot who’s a policy advisor.


Rural round-up

January 18, 2014

Meat Options Paper Seeks Farmer Opinions – Allan Barber:

Federated Farmers’ Meat Options discussion paper, written by Sarah Crofoot, does an extremely good job of laying out the alternative market orientations companies can adopt. It presents three different focus options from which farmers are asked to select their set of preferences.

It should be noted up front that the discussion paper is aimed at Federated Farmers’ farmer members and its key purpose is to engage those farmers in thinking about what they want their industry to look like in 5,10 or 20 years from now. The final output will not be binding on anybody, but it will provide a more comprehensive summary of farmer opinion than the feedback from the series of Meat industry Excellence meetings.

The paper starts with a late 1980s definition of the industry’s unique characteristics quoting Anita Busby, Editor of Meat Producer at the time:

“Meat industry people don’t need to take advice or listen to new ideas. They already have the answers. They strangle new thoughts at conception. If that fails, they discredit the source. If you haven’t been in the meat industry for years, you don’t know what you are talking about. If you have, you’re washed up…”

Sarah Crofoot with the confidence of youth has nevertheless taken the bold step of producing a set of ideas which merit serious consideration. It is now 30 years since subsidies were removed, even longer since the deregulation of the meat industry, and despite many positive developments, the industry still has fundamental structural problems. . .

More than 4000 sheep perish on live export:

More than 4000 Australian sheep have died from heat exhaustion after 21 days on board a live export ship bound for Qatar from Fremantle.

Exporter Livestock Shipping Service said 4179 sheep perished in August aboard their Bader III vessel – the same ship that was loaded with animals last weekend in Perth despite searing 44-degree heat.

LSS are a Jordanian-owned company based in Perth and are already under investigation by Australian Federal Authorities for two breaches of live export regulations in Jordan and Gaza. . .

No downtime for shearing gangs – Jill Galloway:

When it has been too wet for shearing in one area, sheep have been dry enough in another so shearing has cracked on.

Shearers and contractors say they are not behind, in spite of the recent moist weather. “The boys have not had a day off,” said Feilding-based contractor Erin Bailey.

“They had a few days off over New Year, but they have been working since,” she said.

She and her husband Scott run two shearing gangs from their Feilding base, but shear a lot around Marton and Apiti, she said. . .

Taranaki Trust leads dairy research – Sue O’Dowd:

The Taranaki Agricultural Research Trust provides two platforms for cutting-edge research beneficial to the dairy industry.

The trust leases a 126ha (111ha effective) research farm across the road from Fonterra’s Whareroa site near Hawera and owns the 350 cows milked there. DairyNZ manages the Westpac Taranaki Agricultural Research Station (WTARS) under contract to the trust.

The station, established at Normanby in 1974, has done research into areas as diverse as grass grub, nitrogen and phosphate use, once-a- day-milking and feed conversion efficiency.

It had made a significant contribution to New Zealand farming over the last 40 years, said trust chairman Brendan Attrill. . .

Neil’s pinot empire expands – James Beech:

Actor Sam Neill says his winery’s fourth vineyard acquisition demonstrates ”faith and confidence” in Central Otago and its pinot noir for the global market.

Two Paddocks announced this week it had become the only Central Otago winery with a foothold in all three Central Otago wine-producing sub-regions, owning vineyards in Gibbston, the Alexandra basin and now the Cromwell basin.

Neill said a sum of money which was ”considerable, but both vendors and purchasers think it fair” had bought the established 6ha Desert Heart Vineyard, plus woolshed and house, at the end of Felton Rd, Bannockburn, last week. . .

Don’t let Fonterra’s lawyers run off with the fresh cream – Willy Leferink:

They say bad things come in threes.  We’ve had the news Fonterra is going to “vigorously defend any proceedings” taken by Danone against it for US$400 million.  In recent days, Fonterra Brands has voluntarily recalled 330ml and 500ml bottles of fresh cream sold under the Anchor and Pams brands in the upper North Island. 

As a farmer you wonder, what’s next?

First of all Fonterra is doing things by the book in voluntarily recalling affected bottles of fresh cream stamped “best before 21 January”.  Visit foodsmart.govt.nz and you’ll quickly learn that food product recalls happen irrespective of who’s in government.  In 2008, there were 19 recalls versus the 14 last year and they have involved everything from hash browns to fish fillets to soy milk powder.

While the timing of this is far from ideal given last year’s events, this voluntary recall came from Fonterra’s own testing.  It shows consumers that a company owned by thousands of Kiwi farmers puts food safety first.  When consumers take a Fonterra product off the shelf, they deserve to know someone back at Fonterra is testing it. . .


Rural round-up

January 13, 2014

Inside this hut you see the sky – Sally Rae:

Remote Dansey Pass boasts a hut with all the home comforts. Not only does it have the kitchen sink, it also has the ultimate in hut luxury – a flat-screen television, as Sally Rae reports.

An entry in the visitor’s book says it all.

”Headed back to hut to watch rugby on the new edition. As Neville would say, she’s a bit flash Harry now.”

For as Dansey Pass farmer and prominent dog triallist Neville Hore says, his hut on 4046ha Mt Alexander Station is ”not the ordinary bloody musterers’ hut”.

Not that there is any sibling rivalry, but he did point out that while his big brother Jim’s flash hut over at Stonehenge, in the Maniototo, might boast a double bed, it did not have television. . .

Paper highlights foreign threat to meat industry – Hugh Stringleman:

Another year and another report on the problems of the meat industry.

Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre section has published an options paper by its policy adviser Sarah Crofoot, after circulating it among members and seeking responses.

Section chairwoman Jeanette Maxwell said it was a “pick and mix” of solutions to the complex problems facing the industry.

She wanted to build federation policy by hearing from the members on one of the biggest issues facing New Zealand agriculture. . .

Fonterra’s ‘bigger than this’ – Gerald Piddock Stacey Kirk and Laura Walters:

Court proceedings brought by French food giant Danone were unlikely to cause long-term reputational damage to Fonterra or affect dairy commodity prices, experts say.

Danone has cancelled its supply contract with Fonterra and is launching legal action against the New Zealand dairy co-operative in a bid to win compensation for $492 million of losses incurred last year and reputational damage.

The moves follow a scare in August when Fonterra issued a milk powder contamination warning that later tests found was a false alert. University of Auckland head of marketing, Rod Brodie, said whether Fonterra suffered any long-term reputational damage as a result of the court action would depend on the way the company handled the proceedings. 

“While it will be expensive for Fonterra perhaps in court with litigation, in terms of its end markets I think Fonterra’s bigger than this.” . . .

Changing 30 years of habits to go organic a challenge – Helena de Reus:

Throughout Otago, people with a love of food and fresh produce are turning out amazing products. For some it is just a hobby; for others it has turned into their livelihood. Helena de Reus reports.

A wish to produce nutritious food for people led to the decision of a lifetime for farmer Graham Clarke.

He has farmed near the small South Otago township of Waipahi since 1983, and owns the 1000ha Marama Organic Farm with his partner, Giselle McLachlan, and his brother, Ian.

The sheep farm has been organic for the past eight years, after Mr Clarke heard a talk by a biological farming advocate, and decided the benefits outweighed the challenges. . .

Young adviser challenges farmers:

Sarah Crofoot researched and wrote the meat industry options paper for Federated Farmers quickly after starting employment as a meat, fibre and environment policy adviser last September.

By mid-November her paper was circulated to members of the Feds Meat and Fibre council and it was discussed in a closed session later that month.

The paper has been available to Federated Farmers members since mid-December and an electronic survey of responses conducted.

Crofoot wanted the paper to inform debate about the most important questions facing the New Zealand meat industry and have members help shape the federation policy on industry reform. . .

Scotland’s first bee reserve:

The future of Scotland’s native black bee is looking much brighter

 January 2014: The UK’s first honey bee reserve has been created in Scotland. From 1 January 2014 it has become an offence to keep any other species of honey bee on the Hebridean islands of Colonsay and Oronsay apart from the black bee (Apis mellifera  mellifera).

The black bee is thought to be the only native honey bee in Scotland and the new legislation is designed to protect the species from cross-breeding and disease. . .


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