Rural round-up

03/05/2022

O’Connor now will support law changes needed for Fonterra’s capital restructuring – Point of Order:

Agriculture  Minister  Damien  O’Connor has  overcome  his objections to  the  capital restructuring of  dairy giant Fonterra  and  says  the  government  will  now  amend the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act.

The dairy giant wants to make it easier to join the company, while maintaining farmer ownership amid falling milk supply.

O’Connor  recognises  Fonterra as a key part of New Zealand’s world-leading dairy industry and a major export earner for the economy, sending product to over 130 countries.

Around 95% of all dairy milk produced in New Zealand is exported, with export revenues of  $19.1bn a year. It accounts for 35% of NZ’s total merchandise exports and around 3.1%  of GDP. The industry employs around 49,000 people. . . 

Is this the technology to win Kiwis over to genetic engineering? – Nikki Macdonald:

You’ve heard of fermenting yeast to make beer, but what about brewing GM microbes to make bioplastic? Using designer microbes to make stuff in fermentation vats has been described as the next manufacturing revolution, with potential to produce everything from cow-free cheese to sustainable fossil fuel replacements. But is GE-free New Zealand ready for it?

Veronica Stevenson bet her house deposit on a bee.

Before using GM microbes to make stuff was all the talk (Impossible Burger, mRNA vaccines), Stevenson set out to find the genetic recipe for the plastic-like film that lines the nest of a solitary Aussie bee.

All she had to do was work out which bit of the bee’s DNA linked to the nest material and put that code into a micro-organism, which then makes it in a fermentation vat, or bioreactor. . . 

Country Calendar couple put hopes in hemp – Kerry Harvey:

Southland farmers Blair and Jody Drysdale don’t let fear hold them back when it comes to finding ways to make their family farm work.

“You can’t be scared of failing. Give it a go and, as long as you learn by your failures, get up and carry on again,” Blair says.

The couple are the third generation of the family to farm the 320-hectare mixed cropping and livestock farm. Jody and Blair and their three children – Carly, 13, Fletcher, 11, and Leah, nine – took over from Blair’s parents in 2008. . . 

Waikato diary farmers struggling with historic dry conditions

Waikato dairy farmers are struggling with the region’s dry conditions, with no decent rainfall expected to fall anytime soon.

NIWA’s latest hot spot watch shows things have got really dry in the region within the last couple of weeks.

The driest soils across the North Island, compared to normal for this time of the year, are in Northern Waikato – and it doesn’t look like the situation will improve anytime soon, with no decent rain forecast.

Bart Van De ven is a sharemilker in Springdale, near Morrinsville. . . 

Where did we get the idea veganism can solve climate change? – Anthony Signorelli:

Cattle have been denigrated as a major cause of greenhouse gases (GHG) and, therefore, a cause of climate change. When I first heard this as a former farmer, I thought: That’s preposterous! Do cows have more impact than fossil fuels? No way.

Big claims

So, I looked it up. Sure enough, a 2009 report from the WorldWatch Institute claims livestock accounts for 51% of GHG — more than industry, coal-burning electricity generation, and transportation combined. Whatever those guys smoke at WorldWatch, I’d like some for Friday night! That report is no longer available on the WorldWatch site. (Links go to a dead page. A reader sent me this one.) It’s not hard to figure out why.

The original story emphasizing the GHG contribution of livestock came from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). FAO published a study authored by Henning Steinfeld in 2006, which claimed that livestock produced 18% of global GHG and concluded that livestock was producing more GHG than the entire transportation sector. Although it is a mystery how WorldWatch inflated that to 51% three years later, the claim in the FAO study was eye-catching. Apparently, many eyes caught it, and then they read WorldWatch, too.

But there was a slight problem. . . 

Ravensdown secures co-funding to eliminate coal from aglime process :

Ravensdown announces today that it has achieved government co-funding to accompany the co-operative’s investment to install a biomass combustor at its Dipton lime quarry. Locally supplied wood fuel will replace coal in the lime-drying process – an important part of preparing the naturally occurring soil conditioner for use by Southland farmers and growers.

The co-operative’s commitment is being matched by funding through the Government Investment in Decarbonising Industry (GIDI) Fund. The funding agreement with EECA (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority) commits Ravensdown to savings of at least 1,107 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per annum, reducing Ravensdown’s direct carbon footprint by almost 10%.

According to EECA, process heat accounts for over a quarter of New Zealand’s energy-related emissions, presenting a huge opportunity for businesses to take a lead in climate change mitigation. The GIDI Fund is part of the government’s Covid Response and Recovery Fund, established to drive economic stimulus and job creation through decarbonisation projects. . . 


Rural round-up

19/03/2022

‘Russian soldiers took over my farm’: the battle for food supplies in Ukraine – Tom Levitt, Chris McCullough:

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has upended the farming industry, raising fears of disruption to domestic and international food supplies. The Guardian has spoken to three farmers about what life is like on the ground, with the Russian army hiding tanks in barns and stocks of potatoes expected to deplete within weeks.

Andrii Pastushenko, 39, is a dairy farmer who lives 12 miles from Kherson in the south of Ukraine, a city that has been under control of the Russian military.

On Monday, 10 Russian soldiers came to set up a base on the farm, leaving their tanks in barns, and more soldiers arrived later. But after overnight shelling by Ukraine’s military at Kherson airport, the Russian troops left on Wednesday morning.

“They quickly packed up this morning, taking two cars and food from the farm and saying they were ‘nationalising’ them,” he said, adding that they did not pay for either but said: “See you soon.” . . 

Smart tags help farmers to track cows’ health remotely :

A pair of Massey University students have developed game-changing technology that helps dairy farmers monitor their cow health remotely.

Engineering and PhD students Tyrel Glass and Baden Parr’s have set up an agri-tech start-up company called Protag, which has now raised $1m from investors.

This funding will be used to fast-track the development of their company’s smart ear tag sensors, which transmit crucial health and location data to dairy farmers within seconds. Protag’s small, internet-enabled device clips onto a cow’s ear. This allows farmers to continuously monitor the animal’s health, grazing and breeding habits.

Machine learning is used to process data from the device’s temperature, movement and location sensors. This helps farmers map animal behavioural patterns and detect the early onset of illnesses in real time. . . 

Tough times forge fighting spirit for Northland Dairy Industry Award winners :

The 2022 Northland Share Farmers of the Year identify their cows as their biggest asset and say looking after them in the best possible way is their greatest motivation.

Antje and Soenke Paarmann were named winners of the 2022 Northland Share Farmer of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at Copthorne Hotel and Resort Bay of Islands in Waitangi on Wednesday night.  The other major winners were the 2022 Northland Dairy Manager of the Year Phillip Payton, and the 2022 Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year Macee Latimer.  

The third-time entrants believe the benefits from the Awards programme include making smart goals, forward-planning and using the judges’ feedback to improve weaknesses.  

“It is beneficial to sit down and work on your business instead of in your business.” . . 

David MacLeod appointed chair of Predator Free :

Predator Free 2050 Limited (PF2050) has welcomed the Minister of Conservation’s appointment of David MacLeod as its Board chair until 30 November 2025.

Mr MacLeod was appointed to the PF2050 Board in November 2016 and has been acting chair since the departure of inaugural chair Jane Taylor from the role in March 2021.

In addition to his role with PF2050, Mr MacLeod is chair of Taranaki Regional Council. He has iwi connections to Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāi Tahu, and Ngāti Porou.

“We have made some major strides since PF2050 was created from scratch five years ago and I’m honoured and excited to help lead the next phase of our mission,” Mr MacLeod said. . . 

Fruitful partnership nets bumper crop of Axis Awards for Rockit and Special:

Sometimes it pays for the apple to fall a really long way from the tree.

Doing things differently and continuing to disrupt the commodity apple category has seen the team at snack sized apple company Rockit nab nine gongs at the Commercial Communication Council’s 2022 Axis Awards, including one gold.

The awards, which celebrate the enormous breadth of talent within the New Zealand advertising industry, were held virtually yesterday afternoon, due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Rockit™ Apple took gold in the coveted Design 360 category – which recognises a brand’s success across all its touchpoints – along with five silvers and three bronze awards in both the Craft and the Magazine and Newspaper categories. The accolades come 12 months after the innovative apple company partnered with agency Special to tell the story of its delicious, nutritious miniature apples. . . .

Diversified grazing and cropping bock with value high horticulture placed on the market for sale :

A block of productive rural land transitioning from traditional livestock grazing and feed production activities into more lucrative avocado orcharding has been placed on the market for sale.

The property at Maungatapere just west of Whangarei comprises some 47-hectares of long-standing grazing and cropping paddocks, alongside a burgeoning eight-hectare avocado orchard planted last year. The property predominately consists of volcanic soils with some clay loam, and flat to gentle sloping contour.

Farm records show the property has sustained between 100-130 cattle over winter, and between 50-70 cattle during summer. Concurrently, the farm has produced approximately 300 bales of baleage annually, along with 20-hectares of maize which has been grown on lease for approximately $1,000 per hectare. Annual ryegrass is sown in Autumn following the maize harvest for winter and spring grazing. . .

 


Rural round-up

10/02/2022

Covid-19: Some farmers with Covid-19 may be allowed to keep working – Minister :

Farmers who test positive for Covid-19 may be able to continue working if they’re vaccinated and not in contact with others, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says.

The government is giving $400,000 to rural support trusts and other agencies to help farmers and growers prepare a contingency plan as Omicron reaches further into the community.

It is urging farmers, growers and lifestyle block owners to have a plan for who will help run their farm or feed livestock at short notice in the event they test positive for Covid-19.

People who test positive are required to self-isolate for at least 14 days and be symptom-free for 72 hours. . . 

Country of origin labelling soon to be mandatory for fresh and thawed foods:

New regulations taking effect this weekend will give consumers more information about where their food comes from.

From 12 February 2022, businesses must comply with the new Consumer Information Standards (Origin of Food) Regulations that apply to certain fresh and thawed foods: fruit, vegetables, finfish, shellfish, and cured pork such as ham, bacon, and prosciutto. If these foods are frozen, they must state the country of origin from 12 May 2023.

“Mandatory country of origin information will let consumers know where certain food comes from, and help them make informed decisions when they are buying these products,” said General Manager Fair Trading Vanessa Horne.

Foods covered by the Regulations will need to state the country of origin on the packaging or on a sign nearby. . . 

Tribunal win for Gisborne kiwifruit growers – Matthew Rosenberg,:

Kiwifruit growers have won their battle against Gisborne District Council over new rate hikes from producing the golden variety of the fruit.:

In December 2020, authorities in Gisborne decided licences to grow gold kiwifruit – which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per hectare – constitute an increase in value to the land, warranting a rates increase.

Gisborne was the first region to adjust land valuation for growers of the golden variety based on the value of the growing licence.

But the decision received backlash from the industry, with NZ Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) bringing a judicial review proceeding to the High Court, supporting an objection grower Tim Tietjen had before the Land Valuation Tribunal. . . 

How Comvita went form two to 200 staff in China – Nikki Mandow:

Our biggest mānuka honey company has had a presence in China for almost 20 years. Its experience offers a fascinating insight into selling health and food products in this vast, varied, and rapidly-changing market.  |  Content partnership

In the late 1990s, a health-conscious Chinese businessman called Zhu Guangping was on holiday in Hong Kong and browsing through a pharmacy when he discovered a New Zealand bee product brand he liked.

Comvita was finding a growing clientele among Chinese tourists who bought their mānuka honey, propolis and other bee products in Hong Kong and later, as China’s outgoing travel restrictions relaxed, in New Zealand.

They bought for themselves, for family and friends, even to sell when they got home – an early manifestation of what would become the multi-billion dollar ‘daigou’ personal shopper revolution. . .

FMG Young Farmer finals set to kick off under red light :

Excitement is building for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Contest Series Regional Finals, kicking off this Saturday in Waimumu.

The Otago Southland Contest Series Regional Final is going ahead under the red light Covid Protection Framework with a 100-person limit and My Vaccine Pass requirements.

New Zealand Young Farmers Chief Executive Lynda Coppersmith says it’s exciting to be able to continue to host events with clear Government guidelines in place.

“Over the last two years the Contest Series has been seriously impacted by COVID, but our teams have done an amazing job of pivoting with different alert levels, restrictions and all the different scenarios that have arisen,” she said. . .

Where are the milk buyers? ask dairy farmers of Ganderbal in Kashmir – Mubashir Naikrshad Hussain:

On learning that hundreds of litres of milk were not being bought by dealers in Kashmir’s Srinagar City, the dairy farmers in Ganderbal district emptied their cans of milk in drains, as a mark of protest, on Saturday, 31 January.

The dairy farmers of Lar area in the Ganderbal district are worried about losing their decade-old job, on which their entire livelihood is dependent.

My friend and I travelled to Lar in Ganderbal district and spoke to the people involved in the business.

Zamrooda Banu, 34, a dairy farmer from Repora in Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district sold her gold bangles and other belongings to buy 20 cows. She hoped it would help her family. . . 


Rural round-up

14/01/2022

Incentives working but more people needed for Otago summerfruit harvest :

Summerfruit growers in Otago are experiencing severe staff shortages, due to the ongoing impact of border closures and low unemployment in New Zealand.

‘We know it is tough for growers at the moment. Last season, they had the weather. This season, it is the severe labour shortage,’ says Summerfruit New Zealand Chief Executive, Kate Hellstrom.

‘Summerfruit New Zealand is working with other horticulture product groups and government departments to attract and retain as many seasonal workers as possible. However, due to Covid and its impact on New Zealand’s borders, it’s tough.

‘We ask that where possible, growers club together to make best use of available labour. But in saying that, we know that fruit will go to waste, which will affect profitability and morale, as some growers only have about half the staff they’ve had in previous seasons.’ . . 

More dairy industry workers needed ‘for farmers’ mental health’ – Gerhard Uys:

The dairy industry is calling for another 1500 international dairy workers to be let into New Zealand for the 2022 dairy season, with concerns that staff shortages are affecting farmer well-being.

Dairy NZ said recent labour surveys indicated that the dairy sector was short of 2000 to 4000 workers, the statement said.

New Zealand has its lowest unemployment rate since 2007, at 3.4 per cent. A low unemployment rate and closed borders meant massive labour shortage on farms, DairyNZ strategy and investment leader for farm performance Nick Robinson said.

Matt Zanderop, a dairy farmer in Waikato, said he had recently advertised for a local part-time position on his farm but that no one applied because there were no locals workers available to fill such posts. . . 

Environmental compliance still high in Southland – Sudesh Kissun:

Southland farmers are being praised for maintaining high environmental compliance during the 2020-21 monitoring year.

The 2020-21 compliance monitoring report, presented this month to Environment Southland summarised compliance monitoring, enforcement and technical teams’ activities.

Environment Southland general manager integrated catchment management Paul Hulse said that once again Covid restrictions led to significant disruption of the inspection programme, and therefore, inspection numbers.

“It has been another challenging year, however, the compliance team has managed the programme extremely well.” . .

Just how viable is the Tarras airport plan? – Jill Herron:

Jill Herron looks at the road ahead for the mysterious and seemingly unwanted airport in Tarras

Lifestyle blocks are continuing to sell around the site of a proposed international airport at Tarras, with newcomers arriving into a community impatient for clarity on the project.

Construction of this considerable chunk of infrastructure could begin in six years’ time, according to its proposers, Christchurch International Airport Ltd.

A three-year consenting process is due to start in 2024 for the jet-capable facility with a 2.2km runway, coinciding with sustainability and community consultation policies tightening across all levels of government. . . 

Landing at Minaret Station Alpine Lodge – Sue Wallace,:

You can escape the real world at Minaret Station, writes Sue Wallace

It’s simply breathtaking skimming over snow-dusted mountains, emerald green valleys and spotting tumbling waterfalls and meandering streams on the way to the South Island’s luxury Minaret Station Alpine Lodge.

The lodge fits snugly on the western side of Lake Wānaka between Minaret Burn in the south and the Albert Burn in the north.

Head swivelling is in full force on the 30-minute helicopter hop from Queenstown Airport to the remote highland retreat among some of the world’s best scenery. You just don’t want to miss anything. . . 

Propaganda films disguised as documentaries continue to take aim at agriculture – Jonathan Lawler:

At every turn, there is a new food/farm documentary coming out with sensationalist titles like GMO OMG and Cowspiracy. Thanks to the popularity of streaming sites like Netflix and the deep pockets of some interest groups, it has become easier than ever to get such a movie made. And that would be fine if there was any value and truth to what they show. These “documentaries” are too often light on substance and tap into very little — if any — reality about modern agriculture. And, as a farmer who is doing my best to build a sustainable and thriving operation, it’s crushing to see these kinds of depictions get so much buzz in popular culture.

Not long ago, I spoke to a teacher who had recently shown Food, Inc. to her class, and she asked me my opinion of Cowspiracy. I told her it was equivalent to what I shovel out of the cattle pens. I reminded her the purpose of a documentary is to document real-world experience, and even though most will be somewhat biased through the eyes of the filmmaker, these food and ag docs are most often marketed as the definitive answer on a particular subject matter (such as biotech, nutrition, or soil).

Consider a National Geographic documentary on crocodiles, for example. You don’t walk away saying, “Those crocodiles are evil and greedy; why do they kill so many buffalo and why do they trick them by pretending to be logs?” Of course you don’t, because the documentary director is just … well … documenting. . . .

 


Rural round-up

10/12/2021

Feds backs withdrawal from governments archaic pay agreement laws :

Federated Farmers supports Business New Zealand’s decision to opt out of the government’s plans for it to be a partner in implementing so-called ‘Fair Pay’ agreements.

Federated Farmers has already indicated it will not function as a mediator for the government’s flawed pay negotiation scheme.

It fully supports Business New Zealand’s decision.
“We support them and for the same reasons they outline we will also refuse to be a negotiating partner for agricultural employers.

“We call on other agricultural organizations to take a similar stance,” employment spokesperson and national board member Chris Lewis says. . .

Fonterra’s Flexible Shareholding structure gets green light from farmers :

Fonterra shareholders have today given the Co-operative’s new capital structure proposal the green light with 85.16% of the total farmer votes in support of the proposal.

The final votes on the capital structure proposal were cast at a Special Meeting in Invercargill early this afternoon.

Chairman Peter McBride says the Board and Management are united in the belief that the Flexible Shareholding structure is the best course of action for the Co-operative.

“Today our farmers have agreed. We have received a strong mandate for change with 85.16% of votes cast in favour of the proposal and 82.65% of eligible votes being cast, , 

Rural schools cry out for mental health support – Matthew Scott:

Without proper access to mental health services for students, teachers in rural schools are left putting out fires

On paper, it was a dream job.

Sarah* had taught at an urban intermediate school for six years before packing up and moving to the country.

Her new school in rural Manawatu meant teaching a class of 18 students rather than her old class of 31. . . 

New Zealand red meat exports increase by 27 percent:

The value of New Zealand’s red meat sector exports reached $693 million during October, a 27 per cent increase year-on-year, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Sheepmeat was a standout performer with the value increasing by 25 per cent to $309m. The major sheepmeat markets by value were China, up 25 per cent to $131m, the United States, up 54 per cent to $46m, and the Netherlands, up 94 per cent to $29m.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA, said a mixture of supply constraints and good demand in key markets had contributed to the high sheepmeat prices. These factors included Brexit-related issues and Australia rebuilding its sheep flock.

“The average Free on Board* (FOB) value for sheepmeat exports for the quarter was $12.52/kg,” said Ms Karapeeva. . .

Forest Owners say Fish and Game barking up wrong tree :

The Forest Owners Association says Fish and Game’s criticism of exotic plantation forests doesn’t accord with reality.

“Fish and Game is, quite simply, barking up the wrong tree when it invents what it calls a ‘myriad of adverse impacts’ from exotic forests,” says Phil Taylor, the FOA President.

“It is true that forests moderate rainfall entering waterways – which reduces the risk of floods. But that also applies to native trees – which Fish and Game wants a lot more of – as well as to exotics – which Fish and Game wants less of.”

“The same applies to water quality. Water emerging out of forests is cleaner than that flowing off farmland – irrespective of the type of forest or type of farmland,” Phil Taylor says. . .

Te Mata Exports acquire rights to Bay Queen™ Apple:

New Zealand produce exporter, Te Mata Exports Limited, has acquired the exclusive rights to a new early season apple variety.

Developed by Hawke’s Bay growing operation, Bayley Produce, the Bay Queen™ is New Zealand’s earliest export apple variety. Bay Queen™ has a vibrant bright full block red colour with crisp flesh and it’s smooth, sweet balance makes it broadly appealing.

Te Mata Exports and Bayley Produce have enjoyed a close working relationship for 10 years, originally partnering to manage the global sale and distribution of apples and summerfruit, and more recently working together to trial and commercialise the Bay Queen™.

The exclusive rights will see Te Mata Exports manage all tree distribution, planting, exporting and marketing. . . .


Rural round-up

22/11/2021

Feds honours the life and work of John Luxton:

Federated Farmers wishes to pass on its condolences to the family and friends of former Minister of Agriculture and dairy industry leader John Luxton who passed away today.

“We pay our respects to acknowledge and praise the work John did for New Zealand agriculture, especially the dairy sector,” Federated Farmers national president Andrew Hoggard says.

John was a Member of Parliament from 1987 to 2002 and his political contribution was significant across numerous ministerial roles, including his time as Minister of Agriculture.

“The dairy sector would not be the same if it weren’t for John’s work towards forming DairyNZ and then chairing the organisation between 2008 and 2015. . .

Farmers helping feed Auckland families this Christmas:

Farmers and growers are being asked to help put fresh food on the Christmas table for Aucklanders in need this year.

Federated Farmers has launched a “Farmers Feed Families” campaign aimed at raising funds for the Auckland City Mission.

Feds Gisborne President Toby Williams was dismayed to learn how many more Auckland families were struggling as a result of COVID-19 fallout, including loss of jobs or cutbacks to hours.

“It only costs $135 to provide a box of food for a family of four, with enough good ingredients for about four days’ worth of meals. We are asking fellow farmers to help families pay for good, fresh food for Christmas. . .

Rural connectivity not ready for Covid-19:

Rural New Zealand is facing a COVID crisis thanks to the Government’s failure to secure their digital future, says National’s Digital Economy & Communications and Rural Communities Spokespersons Melissa Lee and Joseph Mooney.

“Alongside the Government’s failure to provide New Zealanders with a plan to get our country back in business and end the MIQ Lottery of misery the Government continues to leave rural connectivity behind causing real fears that families across our regions will be unable to access critical health services and information when COVID strikes their towns.

“Rural New Zealanders have already had to do the hard yards during lockdowns of the past 18 months facing network congestion, poor connectivity options and data limits that have seen many of them having to choose between their child’s education or keeping their businesses afloat. This is morally bankrupt for those working in the primary sectors keeping our economy intact. . .

Crunch is coming for agricultural contractors :

Federated Farmers’ concerns about the serious shortage of experienced agricultural machinery operators is proving justified as summer approaches.

A shortage of experienced operators is being felt across rural New Zealand, and the pressure is building on both farmers and rural contractors, Feds immigration and employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“Unfortunately, we all saw this coming a long way out. Federated Farmers has repeatedly explained the implications of having no international seasonal rural workers to the Immigration, Primary Industries and Workplace Relations and Safety Ministers, the Primary Production Select Committee and the CEO of WorkSafe.

“The shortage is leaving both contractors and farmers in the lurch and we have serious concerns for the coming season. These are complex machines that require experienced operators,” Chris says. . .

IrrigationNZ makes big strides with plans to deliver more in 2022 :

IrrigationNZ has made great strides in the last 12 months, with a revitalised strategy put to work propelling the organisation to new heights.

The organisation held its annual general meeting (AGM) via Zoom yesterday, and revealed to members that for the first time in three years the organisation has ended the financial year in the black.

Chief Executive of IrrigationNZ Vanessa Winning, who has been in the role for a year, is proud of her team’s performance, and is looking forward to continuing the good work into 2022.

“I joined IrrigationNZ just before last year’s AGM. We had just completed a restructure, decided to move the head office to Wellington, and were close to another annual loss,” says Ms Winning. . .

Producer prices increase :

Producer prices increased more in the year ended September 2021 than in any other year for more than a decade, Stats NZ said today.

In the year ended September 2021, prices received by producers increased 6.2 percent, and prices paid by producers increased 7.0 percent.

“The increases in prices received and paid by producers in the year ended September 2021 are the largest increases since the years ended March 2009 and December 2008 respectively,” business prices delivery manager James Mitchell said. . .


Rural round-up

09/11/2021

Signing of the methane pledge is irresponsible :

“Minister James Shaw’s signing the methane pledge is irresponsible and weak”, says FARM Chairman, Robin Grieve.

“There was absolutely no need for New Zealand to join this jamboree because we don’t have high fossil sourced methane emissions, we don’t have lots of leaky pipes and inefficient processes. What we do have is biogenic methane mostly from our ruminant livestock and this is quite different to fossil sourced methane. It is an amateurish mistake to conflate the two”.

“Industrial nations with high fossil sourced methane emissions have pledged to fix leaky pipes and improve processes to reduce fossil sourced methane by 30%. This pledge makes sense for them because leaky pipes should be fixed in any case and it is an easy and economical fix which will have environmental benefits”. . . 

Act now to meet climate’s growing unpredictability, farmers warned :

Farmers and growers are being told they need to adapt to growing food under increasingly dry conditions.

Three National Science Challenges, Resilience to Nature’s Challenges, Our Land and Water, and The Deep South Challenge held three webinars and a symposium recently to kick-start a research based conversation about climate change adaptation in the food and fibre sector.

A report summarising those talks, Growing Kai Under Increasing Dry, shows farmers need to begin to adapt now.

The report calls for regional councils to undertake clear planning for likely future climate scenarios in their regions, and to engage with farmers and growers to develop a shared understanding of the scenarios’ implications for the primary sector. . . 

How many cows need to go?

“The Government needs to answer how it’s going to meet its pledge to cut biogenic methane emissions,” says ACT’s Primary Production spokesperson Mark Cameron.

“The Government has pledged to cut biogenic methane by 10 per cent on 2017 levels by 2030, and by between 24 to 47 percent lower by 2050.

“According to James Shaw this does not require any new initiatives due to pre-existing Zero Carbon Act commitments, but there are still a range of questions to be asked.

“How are they planning to do this? Is it herd reductions or is it through new technologies? When will the Government bring farmers into this conversation? It’s their livelihoods at stake. . . 

Dairy prices up 3.7 percent as commodity prices reach record high :

Commodity prices have shot to a new record, with dairy, aluminium and meat fetching strong prices.

The ANZ World Commodity Price Index lifted 2.1 percent last month.

The report says freight prices are stabilising, although costs remain elevated, with persistent supply chain disruptions.

It said rising freight costs were inflationary, and expected to drive up New Zealand’s consumer price index to a peak of just under 6 percent by year’s end. . . 

New Zealand apple industry appoints new chief executive:

New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc. (NZAPI) today announced the appointment of its new Chief Executive, Terry Meikle.

Mr Meikle joins NZAPI with an impressive track record of strategic management and international trade relations, having led NZ agriculture and horticulture interests across the Americas including roles as Agriculture Counsellor at the NZ Embassy in Mexico City, Regional Manager North America for Beef and Lamb NZ and as First Secretary Agriculture and Trade for the New Zealand Embassy based in Washington.

“My networking, advocacy and leadership experience has been in both the public sector and through representing a levy funded organisation. These collaborative leadership roles have involved close partnership and engagement with a variety of public and private sector stakeholders,” says Mr Meikle. . .

 

Grape fungicide approved for use :

A new fungicide which controls bunch rot and powdery mildew in grapes has been approved for use in New Zealand, subject to conditions.

Kenja contains the active ingredient isofetamid, which is new to New Zealand but already approved for use in Australia, Europe, the USA, Canada, and Japan.

The applicant, ISK New Zealand, sought approval to import Kenja as a concentrate to be applied to grapes using ground-based methods.

During the application process, ISK submitted that its product helps to combat fungicide resistance, and is less toxic than other fungicides. It noted that Kenja doesn’t carry any human health hazard classifications. . . 


Rural round-up

04/10/2021

Shearer aiming to take jeans product to world stage – Sally Rae:

Could Woolies Jeans be the next Allbirds? Jovian Cummins certainly hopes so.

The young New Zealand entrepreneur, at present shearing in Western Australia, is launching an equity crowdfunding campaign on the platform PledgeMe on Monday.

He hopes to raise up to $500,000 to help him patent the designs for the merino-lined jeans for workwear and help build a supply chain.

The genesis for the business came in a woolshed in 2018 when the then 22-year-old decided he was “fed up” with the hot and sweaty jeans he was wearing, he said. . .

The future of farming: What will NZ’s agri sector look like in 20 years? – Catherine Harris:

One thing you can be certain about in the agricultural sector iis that it’s always changing. Adaption is a constant for farmers, as sure as the weather.

But the challenges farming is currently facing are some of the greatest the sector’s ever had: climate change, environmental constraints, labour shortages and shipping issues.

Which raises a question: will these be the same challenges farming is facing in 10 or 20 years?

The Government has already been contemplating this question. Last June, the Ministry for Primary Industries put out “Fit for a better world,” a game plan to accelerate farming’s potential. . . 

Biosecurity finalists protecting every corner of New Zealand:

The 2021 Biosecurity Awards finalists named today show the huge effort under way to protect New Zealand from pests and diseases.

The 24 finalists named out of a record number of 90 entries include an iwi partnering with local and central government to eradicate wilding pines from their local taonga, Ruawāhia/Mount Tarawera, and a school on Stewart Island/Rakiura whose efforts are keeping Ulva Island pest free.

Biosecurity efforts have even expanded into space, with Xerra Earth Observation Institute’s leading-edge software which is helping protect Aotearoa from pests via international shipping.

Judging panel chairman Dr Ed Massey says the finalists represent a diverse range of individuals, teams, businesses, government agencies, research organisations, iwi, schools and community groups. . . 

Migrant groups are urgently call ing on the government to include Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers:

The government announced a one-off pathway to residency for several temporary work visas however are excluding a large group of migrants. Migrant groups are urgently calling on the Government to include Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers in the new immigration policy, before it is released. RSEs contribute significantly to Aotearoa’s economy and wellbeing through the work that they have been employed to do.

Most of the RSE workers have been in Aotearoa for at least five consecutive years since the scheme began in 2007. They have boosted the economic growth and productivity levels in the horticulture and viticulture industries. In 2007, New Zealand’s annual export earnings prior to the scheme were $2.6 billion dollars. In 2020, the earnings from the horticulture and viticulture industry were $9.2 billion dollars. The RSE workers were significant contributors to this growth.

The RSE scheme contributes an estimated $34-40 million NZD into the Pacific through remittances and in the period of the pandemic, this is critical to the livelihoods of households across the Pacific region. Aotearoa’s commitment to the Pacific relationship needs to be shown through its support of the RSE workers. . . 

The history of DWN:

Did you know that Dairy Women’s Network began as an email group?

Our story starts when Hilary Webber became a director of the New Zealand Dairy Group and saw women working at the ‘coalface’ of dairy. They were the ones carrying buckets, rearing calves, doing the accounts, raising their families, and supporting their rural communities. But in the boardrooms of dairy companies, the women were almost invisible.

Hilary wasn’t the only one to feel this way and do something about it. Joined by Christina Baldwin, Robyn Clements and dairy farmer Willy Geck, they got funding from Wrightson’s to send Hillary to Washington, where she attended the 1998 International Women in Agriculture Conference along with Willy and the wife of the NZ diplomat to the US. It was at the conference that they heard women described as the ‘silent heroes of agriculture’, which reinforced the need for DWN.

The conference revealed four key things: . . 

Silver Fern Farms to halve  coal use :

Silver Fern Farms welcomes $1 million co-funding from the Government Investment in Decarbonising Industry (GIDI) Fund for a $2.6 million coal-out project at its Pareora processing site, south of Timaru, as a significant boost to achieve the company’s commitment to end all coal use by 2030.

The Pareora heat-pump conversion project is the company’s third successful project under the GIDI fund and represents another important step in Silver Fern Farms’ commitment to playing a leadership role in driving sustainability in the red meat sector.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive, Simon Limmer, said Silver Fern Farms was committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the company’s value chain.

“The work we are doing to reduce the environmental impact of our processing operations is just one of the ways we’re making sure we do the right thing by our customers, who increasingly want to know that their red meat is sustainably produced. . . 


Rural round-up

25/09/2021

Management thinking 100 years ahead

The couple behind one of New Zealand’s most sustainable farms are challenging other farmers to think three or four generations into the future when making decisions.

The call comes from Central Hawke’s Bay farmers Evan and Linda Potter. The couple are the Ballance Farm National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing, and current Gordon Stephenson Trophy holders – so they know a thing or two about the environment.

The Potters bought their 566 hectare hill country sheep, beef and deer farm – Waipapa Station – in 1997. They describe it as “a blank canvas” when they arrived at the gat with nothing more than fencing gear and a team of dogs. . . 

Eight finalists announced for prestigious Trans-Tasman agricultural award:

Judges of the Zanda McDonald Award, Australasia’s agricultural badge of honour, have announced eight finalists, and will crown not one but two winners for 2022 – one from each side of the Tasman.

Now in its eighth year, the prestigious award recognises future young leaders working in agriculture, and provides an impressive prize package centred around a tailored trans-Tasman mentoring programme. The eight talented finalists – four from Australia and four from New Zealand – have been selected for their passion for the industry, strong leadership skills, and the contributions they’re making in the primary sector.

The four New Zealand finalists are Adam Thompson, 35, director of Restore Native Plant Nursery, beef farmer and mortgage broker from Cambridge; Katie Vickers, 28, Head of Sustainability and Land Use for Farmlands, from Christchurch; Olivia Weatherburn, 33, National Extension Programme Manager for Beef + Lamb New Zealand, from Mossburn Southland; and Rhys Roberts, 34, CEO of market garden and farm operation Align Farms, from mid-Canterbury. . . 

Fonterra moves on strategy and structure – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra pulls up the wagons to defend its territory, but is also hoping to sortie out with new nutritional endeavours

Fonterra’s release of its 2020/21 annual report has occurred in association with an additional big dump of information laying out the proposed future for Fonterra.  In essence, Fonterra is confirming that it is going to be a New Zealand company owned by farmers, with the first priority being to maximise returns to farmers.

That position should in itself come as no surprise. Fonterra has been talking that language for three years as it has divested itself of various overseas assets. However, this is the first time that there is a more comprehensive laying out of the long-term strategy, including consequent policy decisions. There are multiple headliners. . . 

Feds gives thumbs up for cross-border and jab efforts:

Federated Farmers is giving a shout out to government agencies handling the movement of essential workers across alert level boundaries, and to those DHBs and medical centres reaching out to rural people over COVID vaccinations.

“With Auckland now at Alert level 3 and access to takeaways resumed, there are still essential workers having to cross alert level boundaries south and north of Auckland. Many of them work in or with the primary industries – farmers, vets, stock transporters and food processors to name a few,” Feds national board member and employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“Quite rightly, essential workers are required to have proper documentation and it might all have been a big hassle.

“However, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, with the Ministry for Primary Industries, have made the process seamless and sensible. Hats off to them,” Chris said. . . 

Surprise win for rural internet pioneer :

Taranaki wireless broadband pioneer Matt Harrison has been elected to the board of TUANZ, the influential tech users industry group.

As one of two new regional members of the board of 10, Harrison says his “somewhat surprising election” reflects the new importance TUANZ is placing on making sure rural New Zealanders are included in its goal of making New Zealand one of the top 10 digital countries worldwide by 2030.

The election has come as a surprise for Harrison, the managing director of Primo. He says he was up against 15 other strong candidates from the telco industry, almost all of whom were from large companies in the main centres. He says being a regional internet provider and an advocate for rural users may have swung the vote his way.

“This shows me that there is strong support from the whole industry for what we are doing at Primo in providing connections to rural people who would otherwise miss out on having a quality internet link.” . . 

Lab grown meat is supposed to be inevitable. The  science tells a different story – Joe Fassler:

Splashy headlines have long overshadowed inconvenient truths about biology and economics. Now, extensive new research suggests the industry may be on a billion-dollar crash course with reality.

Paul Wood didn’t buy it.

For years, the former pharmaceutical industry executive watched from the sidelines as biotech startups raked in venture capital, making bold pronouncements about the future of meat. He was fascinated by their central contention: the idea that one day, soon, humans will no longer need to raise livestock to enjoy animal protein. We’ll be able to grow meat in giant, stainless-steel bioreactors—and enough of it to feed the world. These advancements in technology, the pitch went, would fundamentally change the way human societies interact with the planet, making the care, slaughter, and processing of billions of farm animals the relic of a barbaric past.

It’s a digital-era narrative we’ve come to accept, even expect: Powerful new tools will allow companies to rethink everything, untethering us from systems we’d previously taken for granted. Countless news articles have suggested that a paradigm shift driven by cultured meat is inevitable, even imminent. But Wood wasn’t convinced. For him, the idea of growing animal protein was old news, no matter how science-fictional it sounded. Drug companies have used a similar process for decades, a fact Wood knew because he’d overseen that work himself. . .


Rural round-up

20/08/2021

Lockdown shuts sale yard gates again – Suz Bremner:

The livestock-selling market was again put on hold as the country moved into Alert Level 4. This followed confirmation of the covid-19 Delta variant in the community and meant sale yards were not able to open their gates for the rest of the week.

PGG Wrightson North Island livestock manager Matt Langtry says the options are slightly limited this week.

“Under Level 4 all sale yards are closed, however, we will continue to re-evaluate the situation as Government and MPI updates come to hand. As an essential service provider under Level 4, PGG Wrightson agents can operate in private sales (farm-to-farm) and prime (meat processor) consignments, where there needs to be a focus on animal and farmer welfare and feed levels,” Langtry said.

“We are operating under strict MPI protocols, which includes a very transparent traceability and audit process for our team. Through this challenging time, it is imperative we keep communicating with the industry, we are in this together. It’s a bugger of a situation again, but we will pull through.” . . 

Meat processors temporarily reduce capacity after lockdown announced – Rachael Kelly:

Some meat processing plants closed temporarily on Wednesday to put social distancing protocols in place, and others are working at a reduced capacity after the level four lock down was announced.

But farming leaders do not expect too much disruption on farms, as calving continues and lambing begins.

New Zealand is now in a nationwide level 4 lock down, with a total of seven Covid-19 cases in the community They are all in Auckland and all confirmed to be the more transmissible Delta variant.

Alliance Group chief executive David Surveyor said the company paused processing across its plant network on Wednesday morning to allow it to reconfigure plant operations to reflect the new protocols and give staff an opportunity to make suitable home arrangements such as childcare. . . 

Whales and dolphins stuck on inland farm – Country Life:

Sheep and cattle graze where whales and dolphins once swam 25 million years ago.

Bones from their skeletons are fossilised in cliffs and rocks on Grant Neal’s farm at Duntroon in North Otago.

”There’s 12 whale and dolphin fossils scattered through one gully and down the next there must be five, so it’s awesome how concentrated it is,” Grant says.

The area on the farm where the fossils were discovered is an official geo-site in the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark. . . 

Scrumming to support farmers – Annette Scott:

Farmers and Parliament representatives tackled their skills on the rugby field in an event that raised more than $110,000 for Canterbury’s flood affected farmers.

The farmers’ Fonterra Good Together team – featuring former All Blacks Aaron Mauger, Casey Laulala and Kevin O’Neill, and coached by legendary Crusaders coach Scott (Razor) Robertson – proved too good.

Captained by Mid Canterbury dairy farmer and representative rugby player Jon Dampney, the farmers meant business, thumping the Parliamentary team 51 points to 10, but it was head-to-head all for a good cause.

In a brainstorm of ideas to raise money and support farmers impacted by recent flooding, Fonterra challenged the Parliamentary rugby team to the charity rugby match hosted by the Mid Canterbury Rugby Union at the Ashburton showgrounds. . . 

Lockdown protracts fight to protect mānuka honey as Kiwi – Jonathan Milne:

Mānuka honey by any other name would be as sweet – but would it be as lucrative? NZ and Australia fight over whether its name can be trademarked as distinctively Kiwi.

The opening of the US judgment is to-the-point: “The parties find themselves in a sticky situation,” says the panel of judges in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The new California court ruling is in a class action against Trader Joe’s, a retailer that markets its store brand mānuka honey as “100% New Zealand mānuka Honey”. It isn’t – it’s only about 60 percent from mānuka nectar. But the court ruled: “100% could be a claim that the product was 100 percent mānuka honey, that its contents were 100 percent derived from the mānuka flower, or even that 100 percent of the honey was from New Zealand.” 

It’s cases like these that highlight the challenge for New Zealand’s mānuka honey producers, who have been trying (and failing) to put out fires like Trader Joe’s for years. . .

New £5k innovation prizes for ventures run by pioneering farmers:

New prizes worth £5,000 have been launched to identify and support innovators and entrepreneurial thinkers who can drive sustainable change in British farming.

The Farming Innovation Pioneers Awards will be delivered through Harper Adams’ School of Sustainable Food and Farming (SSFF) and sponsored by Trinity AgTech’s Pioneers program.

They will be made to farmers who work with cross-industry stakeholders to spearhead transformational sustainability projects – those which drive the industry forward environmentally, socially or commercially, or a combination of all three.

Examples of innovations the judges expect to see include farmers working together with banks and retailers to set up new types of a more sustainable farm enterprise. . . 


Rural round-up

24/06/2021

Carbon farmers bought swathes of NZ promising to create native forests — but researchers doubt it will work – Eloise Gibson:

A carbon farming business has bought swathes of the country and planted it in pine trees, promising it would one day regenerate into native forest – but researchers who’ve studied the concept doubt it will work.

New Zealand Carbon Farming (NZCF) has quickly grown to be one of the country’s biggest landowners, with more than 89,000 hectares either owned or leased. NZCF says it is the biggest provider of carbon credits in Australasia, and the biggest participant in New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme.

The business model is to find farmland with remnants of native forest nearby to act as a seed stock, then plant pine, which grows quickly and supplies a stream of income from carbon credits. The company says it selects sites with enough rain and decent soil, and that it will thin the pine and control pests, such as deer and possums, to enable indigenous forest to grow underneath (and eventually take over).

But two forestry scientists who helped pioneer the pine-to-native forest concept in New Zealand question whether native regeneration will happen on the scale the business is attempting. . .

DoC’s Mackenzie project dubbed a disaster – David Williams:

A $2.6 million Mackenzie Basin project abandoned its business case, lacked oversight, and achieved little. David Williams reports

A drive for greater protection in the fragile South Island high country turned into a “complete disaster”, according to a review ordered by Department of Conservation senior managers.

The external review report, released to Newsroom under the Official Information Act, says the $2.6 million Mackenzie Basin project announced in the 2018 Budget had “no formal governance”, the partnerships section of DoC running it did not have “formal project management skills”, and external partners and stakeholders were “disillusioned and have heavily criticised the project”.

Some external parties, such as private landowners, hadn’t been contacted for nearly two years. Relationships with mana whenua were described as strained “at best” . .

Minister not plugged into community signal struggles:

It is unacceptable that a town just 10 minutes from Greymouth has such poor digital connectivity that they are not able to even receive Civil Defence warnings, National’s Digital Economy and Communications spokesperson Melissa Lee says.

Ms Lee has been advocating for rural communities which are being left behind by a lack of digital and communications infrastructure.

Dunollie is a small town on the West Coast and in March, Melissa Lee, along with National List MP based in West Coast-Tasman Maureen Pugh, visited its frustrated residents. Despite having a cell tower on the beach to enable tourists to stay connected, a hill between the beach and the township prevents the locals from accessing the signal. . . 

New Zealand pig farmers demand imported pork measure up to NZ’s animal welfare standard – Lauren Hale:

New Zealand pig farmers are supporting a petition calling for imported pork to be required to meet the same animal welfare standards as New Zealand pork.

Approximately 60 per cent of pork consumed in New Zealand is imported with most of it being produced in countries that farm pigs using practices that are illegal in this country.

“New Zealand’s pork sector operates to high welfare standards compared to many other countries who have less rigorous health, welfare and environmental regimes,” says David Baines, chief executive of NZPork, which represents New Zealand pig farmers.

“Our commercial pig herd also has a high health status and is not affected by the diseases that are having a very serious impact on pork industries in many other countries.

Homegrown Butcher named Supreme Champion at 2021 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards

Dion Kilminster produces top-quality beef and lamb — but the road to success constantly challenges him.

It was by chance that farmer-butcher Dion Kilmister met marketer Ali Scott in a Wellington pub on St Patrick’s Day nine years ago. But together, they’ve overcome the odds in more ways than one.

This year, their mixed box of gourmet beef and lamb took the Supreme Champion gong at the 2021 Outstanding NZ Food Producers Awards. “Pure beefiness,” commented one of the judges of the pack, which includes many different cuts of meat as well as gourmet sausages.

In 2018’s honours (see NZ Life & Leisure, May/June 2018), Dion and Ali’s Homegrown Farm Fresh Meats won the Ara Wines Paddock Champion award for its lamb. . . 

Invest Like a Farmer: the surprising similarities between how farmers and venture capitalists think – Sarah Nolet:

As a venture capitalist working in agriculture, I’m constantly surprised by the similarities between how farmers and investors think.

I came to agriculture in a roundabout way. I grew up in Silicon Valley and moved to Boston to study computer science and later work in the defense industry. It was during an accidental gap year in South America, where I was pulling weeds on an organic tomato farm in Argentina, that I first saw the potential to apply my systems background to agriculture.

I realized that much of the technology that was being developed was missing the mark because the people making it — while they were accomplished technologists — didn’t understand the culture, science, or business of farming. That’s when I began to develop my own investment thesis for agtech.

Agriculture has historically been a very different world to the heavily urban-focused startup and technology ecosystem. But though the lines between these two worlds are blurring, there’s still a huge gap between the two; not just in technology application, but also in language, culture and trust. . . .


Rural round-up

18/06/2021

Calls for MP acknowledgement of farmers :

The co-owner of a major farm machinery business wants more rural sector acknowledgement from MPs.

A record number of Labour MPs will be at Fieldays 2021.

Power Farming’s Brett Maber says farmers often get a bad rap – but they’ve had a good season, especially given the past year. . .

Feds applauds UK-Australia free trade deal:

News that Australia and the UK have signed a free trade agreement is a promising step forward in the fight against tariffs and protectionism, Federated Farmers says.

“It reinforces the international rules-based trading framework and is important for rural producers and global consumers,” Feds President Andrew Hoggard says.

The FTA is the first to be signed by the UK since it left the European Union. . .

Education resource highlights NZ dairy and red meat’s role in feeding global population:

A new climate change education resource has been released by New Zealand’s pastoral farming sector.

The resource, ‘The important role of New Zealand dairy and red meat in feeding a growing global population’, has been co-authored by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers of New Zealand.

It explores the complex relationship between environmental, economic, nutritional, social and global food security outcomes in New Zealand’s food system. Written in a straight-forward and science-based style, it will provide secondary school students, in particular, with balanced information.

As a producer of food for around 10 times its own population, New Zealand has a unique emissions profile and consequently has a unique challenge in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. . .

Utes big ticket items at Fieldays

Thousands of farmers flocked to the first day of Fieldays today, the Southern Hemisphere’s largest agricultural event.

Last year’s event was cancelled because of Covid-19, so expectations were high for the more than 1000 exhibitors who were back to put their wares on display.

The last time the event was held at Mystery Creek, near Kirikiriroa-Hamilton in 2019, it generated $500 million in sales for New Zealand businesses.

Some of the big ticket items are utes and, with the recent EV policy announcement, farmers are expecting to soon pay fees when they buy fossil fuel vehicles for their farms. . . 

Primary industries outlook predicts export rebound after 1.1% fall :

The food and fibre sector is expecting a 1.1 percent drop in export revenue due to covid related issues, but is expected to bounce back.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ outlook for primary industries (SOPI) report was released at Fieldays this morning.

Exports amounted to over $47 billion and the forecast for the year ending June 2022 was for exports to reach a record $49.1 billion – a 3.4 percent increase on the year just ending.

Sustained growth is forecast year on year, hitting a further record of $53.1 billion for the year to June 202-5. . . 

Vodafone and Farmside supporting rural New Zealanders with new connectivity options:

As Fieldays gets started, Vodafone is proud to offer rural Aotearoa new connectivity options including trialling a RBI2 Unlimited Broadband service for people who live in the second Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI2) area.

This comes as Vodafone ramps up network investments to expand its regional coverage footprint around Aotearoa, and as part of the Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) to build more cell towers in rural New Zealand under the RBI2 program.

This three-month RBI2 Unlimited Broadband trial sees Farmside, Vodafone’s rural broadband specialist, offer unlimited wireless broadband* for $79.99 a month to households within the geographical RBI2 area, with the trial also open to wireless internet service providers (WISPs) as part of Vodafone’s wholesale agreements. . . 


Rural round-up

14/10/2020

Dairy farmers rise to sustainability challenge :

The stories of Kiwi farmers leading the world in sustainable farming are being shared as part of DairyNZ’s Rise and Shine campaign launched this week.

“New Zealand dairy has a great story to tell and we are seeing that realised through public sentiment, with 73% of people recently surveyed being favourable toward dairy farmers,” says DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle.

“This is tremendous recognition for farmers playing a key role right now – dually supporting our economic recovery post-Covid while shifting how their day-to-day business operates to further deliver for environment, animals and people.”  . .

Farmers contribute to fundraiser for charity hospital – Jamie Searle:

An organiser believes up to 1000 bales of wool could be donated for the #Bales4Blair fundraiser.

Sarah Dooley said farmers in Southland and further north were getting behind the fundraiser, which is focused on providing wool insulation and carpet for the planned Southland Charity Hospital in Invercargill.

The fundraiser is named after the late Blair Vining who, along with his wife Melissa, campaigned to get better care for cancer patients. The campaign continues, and Melissa and supporters are eagerly awaiting construction of the hospital, starting in February.

Dooley, of Mimihau, and fellow farmers, Amy Blaikie, of Slopedown, and Brooke Cameron, of Mokoreta, launched the fundraiser a week ago. . . 

On a mission to destroy wilding pines :

The Marlborough Sounds Restoration Trust is leading the way in New Zealand in the battle against wilding pines which are not only threatening biodiversity but helping to create tinder box conditions in parts of the country.

Country Life spoke to the chair of the trust, Dr John Hellstrom, about efforts to tackle the problem.

The skeletons of dead and dying pine trees stand above the native bush of Endeavour Inlet like sickly sentinels.

Their branches are dropping off and their trunks are white, in marked contrast to the lush green growth below. . . 

Sheep milking doubles income in Waikato – Gerald Piddock:

New sheep milking conversions in Waikato are delivering twice the per hectare income that the farmers used to earn from cows.

General manager of operations Peter Gatley says the new farms supplying Maui Milk this season are making around $14,000 a hectare, compared to $7000/ha a cow milking farm would typically earn.

“Income per hectare is a simple function of stocking rate, yield and payout,” he said.

“A ratio of six ewes per cow gives us about 17 ewes per hectare on Waikato dairy country. Our payout is $17 per kg of total solids, or about $3 per litre. Therefore, an average yield per ewe of 275 litres will deliver $14,000.” . . 

Too much time spent on chasing interest groups down wombat holes, beef producers told – Shan Goodwin:

HOW much the opinions of agenda groups working to shut down animal production actually count was a key topic put under the microscope at a beef industry event in Rockhampton this week.

Hosted by Agforce Queensland, The Business of Beef was run live at the Central Queensland Livestock Exchange as part of Brahman Week proceedings, as well as being live streamed.

A question on the best way to combat falsehoods about beef production and the environment brought passionate responses from the four well known northern producers who headlined the event.

Bryce Camm, who oversees his family’s integrated beef and cropping enterprise with interests across Queensland and is the current chairman of Beef Australia, along with being president of the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association, questioned how much money, and time and energy, the industry had spent “chasing every interest group down every wombat hole trying to appease them.” . .

Courgette prices fall back to earth:

Courgette prices were down 58 percent in September 2020 as the growing season resumed and more local produce arrived back on the shelves, Stats NZ said today.

Courgettes dropped to a weighted average price of $12.36 per kilo in the month, after reaching an all-time high of $29.60 in July during a trade ban from Queensland due to a crop virus. See Vegetable prices continue to grow for more information.

“The increase in domestic supply has filled the gap left by a shortage of imported courgettes during the winter,” consumer prices manager Nicola Growden said. . .


Rural round-up

01/04/2020

Hope from the high country – Philip Todhunter:

Covid-19? It’s like opening your front door and finding two metres of snow on the ground just after you’d put all your new fencing in.

The fences have been wrecked. You look at the damage, you shake your head, and then you get on with managing your way through it.

In the back of your mind, you know that spring will come, the tonnes of snow will melt, and the grass will grow again.

Farmers are an optimistic bunch. We’re used to things going in cycles: weather patterns, commodity prices, market demand … but we also know that sometimes the wheel doesn’t turn the whole way round, sometimes the change is permanent. . . 

Coronavirus: can the economy recover – Andrea Vance and Iain McGregor:

The economic ride down is likely to be sharp and steep. But when consumers eventually emerge from lockdown, what will the recovery look like? Andrea Vance and Iain McGregor investigate.

Weighing sheep in a yard in the brown foothills of North Canterbury’s Hundalee Hills, Ben Ensor is an unlikely soldier on the frontline of New Zealand’s economic recovery.

As the country prepared to shut down, to stop the spread of coronavirus, the sheep and beef farmer was separating merino stock under the shadow of rustic woolshed. Hooves beat up clouds of dust, as his farm dog herded them into a race.

With 6000 sheep, and around 500 cattle, Ensor can’t close down. Like nurses, doctors, pharmacists and supermarket staff, farming and cropping have been deemed “essential“. . .

Kiwifruit taste test goes south :

Kiwifruit growers will not be paid for their fruit’s taste profile this season after the country’s only testing facility dropped the test.

Eurofins Bay of Plenty is the country’s only testing facility for the drymatter component of kiwifruit, which gives growers and Zespri a direct indication of the fruit’s taste profile.  

The lab now tests only for residues in fruit, leaving post-harvest processors grappling with how to evaluate fruit quality. . .

Keep calm, carry on – Colin Williscroft:

The Government is well aware of farming’s importance and is doing everything it can to ensure the primary sector continues to operate as close to normal as possible, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says.

“Farming has been the backbone of New Zealand and that will that continue long into the future,” O’Connor says.

Cabinet understands the role farming plays in the economy, along with the need to maintain farming systems subject to seasonal and biological cycles, including the lifecycle of animals and grass growth, restrictions other businesses around the country are not subject to. . .

Meat industry in better shape today to cope with downturn – Allan Barber:

When I started to trawl through possible topics to write about this week, I had the bright idea it might be worth asking meat processors what contingency plans they have in place in case an employee, more particularly one on the processing floor, tests positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus. So far my research suggests it’s not yet an issue that has received a great deal of consideration by many companies, although it’s certainly on their radar.

In an update to farmers, Silver Fern Farms states its position as “The reality is that an outbreak, or the understandable precautionary response of our people, is likely to see an impact on our processing capacity in coming weeks. It is realistic to expect that with a workforce of 7000 we will at least have precautionary isolation within our workforce. We have processes in place to ensure that, should this occur, it can be managed. We are working on the various contingent options and will keep you updated should there be any disruption to processing.” . . 

Coronavirus: George Eustice applauds farmers as ‘hidden heroes’ :

Defra Secretary George Eustice has labelled farmers ‘hidden heroes’ for keeping food on the nation’s plates during the Covid-19 crisis.

In an open letter to the food and farming industry, Mr Eustice paid tribute to ‘all those who are working around the clock to keep the nation fed.’

The statement described farmers’ response so far as ‘extraordinary’ and thanked those involved in food production on behalf of the country.

“In the face of what is perhaps the greatest health challenge this country has faced in our lifetime, I want to pay tribute to all those who are working around the clock to keep the nation fed,” he said. . .  

 


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