Rural round-up

30/06/2021

Farm know-how needed to improve M bovis programme – Neal Wallace:

Ben and Sarah Walling have experienced every possible emotion in their dealings with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) during three Mycoplasma bovis incidents on their Southland farm, but their overriding sentiment is to laugh.

“You’ve got to learn to laugh about it or it just eats you up,” Ben, a Five Rivers calf rearer and bull finisher, said.

Despite that, he has a daily reminder of his situation; an ongoing legal dispute involving “hundreds of thousands of dollars” compensation sought from MPI, which he attributes to a rigid and inflexible system that ignores the reality of farming.

The dispute relates to the impact of falling beef schedule prices and supply contracts being cancelled while his compensation claim was settled. . . 

MPI failed farmers – Sudesh Kissun:

Ashburton farmer Frank Peters, who was forced to cull stock twice in three years, says the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has failed farmers.

Peters, who milks 1,400 cows all year-round on the family farm told Rural News that a recent University of Otago study that found the Government’s response to the 2017 Mycoplasma bovis outbreak was poorly managed and inflicted significant and lasting trauma on farmers was on the mark.

The two-year study included extensive interviews with farmers impacted by M. bovis in Southland and Otago.

Peters told Rural News that he would expect similar anecdotes from farmers whose stock were ravaged by the disease. . . 

Resource Management proposal positive on consultation, flawed in content:

The government should be applauded for a proper consultation process on replacement RMA legislation but Federated Farmers has significant concerns about local democracy being stripped away.

Reacting to the release today of an ‘exposure’ draft of the Natural and Built Environments Act, Feds Vice-President and resource management spokesperson Karen Williams said it was pleasing this initial round of submissions and select committee inquiry would be followed by a second select committee process early next year.

“If the poor process around the production of the unworkable Essential Freshwater regulations has taught us anything, it is to carry out a thorough and genuine consultation process, as distinct from the secret and exclusive process that led to that mess.

“A two-step consultation process for this first phase of replacement resource management laws is welcome,” Karen said. . .

Polar blast hits South Island – Neal Wallace:

Farmers are taking in their stride the first cold polar blast of winter, which has dumped up to 100mm of snow in parts of the South Island and is making its way up the North Island.

Plenty of advanced warning and the fact it has arrived in the middle of winter means farmers have not been caught out, although the snow has caused some access problems in Otago.

The snow missed flood-hit parts of Mid and South Canterbury, although the region has not avoided the single-digit wind chill.

WeatherWatch lead forecaster Phil Duncan describes it as a classic, normal winter polar blast, but for some areas in the path of the storm it will be the first snowfall for a number of years. . . 

Putting a number of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions :

A total of ten tools and calculators can now be used by farmers and growers to get an understanding of their current agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

He Waka Eke Noa Programme Director Kelly Forster says the second set of tools and calculators has been assessed, following the first tranche earlier this year. Assessed tools now include: Foundation for Arable Research’s (FAR) ProductionWise, Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s GHG calculator (available in July), and Toitū’s Farm emanage.

The full list and the industries they cover: . . .

 

Try the word sorry for size anti-meat academics told – Shan Goodwin:

RED meat’s overarching representative body has taken direct aim at academics espousing anti-meat rhetoric in a sign industry leaders are fighting back hard on unsubstantiated claims made in the name of promoting plant-based products.

The Red Meat Advisory Council has written to the vice-chancellor and principal of The University of Sydney, Professor Stephen Garton, demanding a public apology for a university-branded media alert on the new food labeling senate inquiry.

The inquiry is looking into the use of words like meat and beef on the packaging of plant-based products that do not contain any animal products. . .

 


Rural round-up

06/06/2021

Where’s the dollars and sense? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

With all the hype around the benefits of regenerative agriculture, a significant aspect appears to be missing – economics.

We hear about farmer wellbeing. Sometimes we hear about production. But where are the accounts?

If the approach and rethink about systems is so good, why is the income side missing in discussion?

Most of us understand that Country Calendar is now more about lifestyles and people stories than working farms (with the occasional exceptions). RNZ’s CountryLife is tending the same way. Both are focused on motivating an audience, which is mostly urban, to tune in. . . 

Hīkoiof hundreds against far-north SNAs to follow Dame Whina Cooper’s footsteps – Susan Botting:

Panguru great-grandmother Hinerangi Puru (84) will journey in the footsteps of her iconic mother Dame Whina Cooper next week in a hīkoi fighting new Significant Natural Area “land grabs” converging on Far North District Council’s head office.

The Hokianga kuia will be among expected hundreds from across the Far North and beyond in the hīkoi to FNDC’s head office in Kaikohe on 11 June.

“My mother marched to Wellington in 1975 at the age of 83 to the call of ‘not one more acre’,” Puru said of the journey she was also part of.

“Now, nearly 50 years on we’re still having to do the same thing with this hīkoi.” . . 

Carbon forestry’s desirability challenged at meeting – Rebecca Ryan:

“Call it carbon mining.”

Addressing the crowd at a public meeting in Weston on Monday night, Five Forks farmer Jane Smith suggested the word “farming” was no longer used in association with carbon forestry.

“The term farming suggests you are looking after a resource sustainably, long term, into perpetuity — and this certainly is not,” Mrs Smith said.

“So let’s call it carbon mining.” . .

Farmers fill skill gap – David Anderson:

Finding and training skilled workers is a growing problem in many parts of the NZ economy and the sheep and beef farming sector is no exception.

However, instead of sitting around and bemoaning this fact, a number of like-minded sheep and beef producers from around the country have decided to do something about it.

They have established the Growing Future Farmers (GFF) charitable trust, which aims to provide industry-led, on-the-job training and work for young people keen to enter the sheep, beef and deer farming sectors. “Evidence from farm employers and recruitment agencies indicate a considerable shortfall of well-trained people entering the industry over the last decade,” GGF trust board chair John Jackson told Rural News. . . 

Searching for the future on North Island hills – Keith Woodford:

Some weeks back I wrote an article on New Zealand’s sheep and beef farms, focusing on the current situation. I said I would be back as there was more to discuss about both the present and the future. Here, I want to focus more specifically on the North Island hill (Beef+Lamb Class 4) and hard-hill country (Class 3). These land classes comprise around 4000 farms and contain approximately 45 percent of New Zealand’s commercial sheep and beef farms.

Before heading further down that track, I want to share some information supplied by Rob Davison from Beef+Lamb. The 2017 Statistics Department national census indicates there are approximately 26,400 sheep and beef farms in New Zealand. However, Beef+Lamb estimates that only 9200, or 35 percent thereof, are commercial farms. These commercial farms typically have at least 750 stock units and comprise 97 percent of New Zealand’s sheep production plus 88 percent of the beef cattle production. That means there are another 17,200 lifestyle and hobby farmers.

Although the 17,200 non-commercial farmers may not be particularly important from a production perspective, they are still a very important part of the rural community. Many of these people have a day-job in the agricultural servicing industry. . . 

Cost to beef of China dramas impossible to measure – Shan Goodwin:

It was impossible to measure how much Australia’s geopolitical tensions with China might cost the beef industry because unique market dynamics were at play, senate estimates hearings in Canberra have heard.

Representatives from the red meat industry’s big research, development and marketing provider Meat & Livestock Australia appeared before the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee and fielded questions on everything from global marketing budgets to carbon neutrality.

Managing director Jason Strong said China grew as a beef market for Australia extremely quickly. . .


Rural round-up

19/05/2021

ORC to seek controls over carbon forestry – Rebecca Ryan:

Otago regional councillors have voted to lobby central government for national changes to standards for carbon forestry.

Following concerns raised by the public and a visit to the site of October’s Livingstone fire, councillors and iwi representatives on the council’s strategy and planning committee discussed tree planting for carbon sequestration (carbon forests) during a meeting last week.

“Unlike plantation forestry, carbon forests are planted and left in perpetuity,” Cr Kevin Malcolm said.

“As forestry for carbon sequestration is currently a permitted activity in the Otago region, there’s not the same level of maintenance and hazard management expected for forests planted for harvest. This can lead to pest problems, depleted river flow in water-short catchments, and increased fuel loads for bush fires.” . . 

Farmers let down by government MIQ restrictions – Sudesh Kissun:

Farmers will continue to apply pressure on the Government and hope for a change of heart on the need for skilled overseas workers.

Earlier this month, the Government declined an application by the dairy sector for 500 skilled workers from overseas.

Federated Farmers immigration spokesman Chris Lewis says the Government is set to deliver its budget this week, aiming to grow the pie and reduce debt. “For that they would need the economy to grow, but how can you with your biggest export sector facing a worker shortage,” Lewis told Rural News. . .

We’re not a push over – Peter Burke:

Beef+Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison has fended off criticism that his organisation is too cosy with government and won’t speak out against it.

In recent weeks, there have been growing calls for the industry good organisations – Beef+Lamb NZ and DairyNZ – to be more vocal against some of the government reforms that are affecting farmers. But Morrison says people should judge them on the outcomes, not the outbursts.

He says right now an entity of 15 farming groups are working together to have a mature conversation with government around what is the best way to achieve some of these reforms so that they don’t impact negatively on the primary sector.

“None of the sectors are selling each other out to get a result. This is about an aligned agreement about what is the best way to construct policy, and throwing rocks doesn’t work – it just gets people offside,” Morrison told Rural News. “You can have heated, mature debates, but you still have to be respectful.” . . 

Awards finalist living her best life – Sally Rae:

Maniototo vet and farmer Becks Smith was a finalist for the recent Zanda McDonald Award for young professionals in the agricultural sector. She talks to rural editor Sally Rae about her passion for the industry.

Becks Smith genuinely has the best of both worlds.

A finalist for the recent Zanda McDonald Award, Mrs Smith works part-time as a vet at VetEnt in Ranfurly, while farming at Gimmerburn with her husband, Jason, and their young family.

As she looked out the window on a blue-sky Maniototo day, which started with a minus-seven degree frost, she reflected on how lucky she was to have that as her office. . . 

AgResearch collects top award for meat imaging technology – RIchard Rennie:

Sheep facial recognition, portable dairy processing, “green” batteries and meat quality tech were all winners at this year’s Food, Fibre and Agritech – Supernode Challenge. Richard Rennie reports.

The Food, Fibre and Agritech challenge, sponsored by ChristchurchNZ, KiwiNet and the Canterbury Mayor’s Welfare Fund aims to capture a range of disruptive technologies that can be commercialised to help address some of agriculture’s major challenges.

This year’s supreme overall winner was the AgResearch team headed up by Cameron Craigie for Clarospec. The team developed a machine to help deliver more consistent and objective lamb meat grading quality using hyperspectral imaging technology. 

The unit that is now operating in a commercial plant providing objective, precise information on lamb meat quality. . .

Red meat under attack – Shan Goodwin:

AMID the plethora of technical seminars and market analysis at Beef Australia this year, it seems a presentation from a Tasmanian orthopedic surgeon with no commercial ties to the red meat game has become the most talked about event.

Dr Gary Fettke’s address at a forum hosted by Agforce touched on everything from religion to diabetes and the breakfast cereal business to the origins of veganism but the overarching message was clear.

The beef industry needs to know where the anti-meat rhetoric started and plan a defence because it is under attack.

The demonisation of red meat has nothing to do with science, Dr Fettke said. . .


Rural round-up

10/05/2021

Fonterra boss Miles Hurrell says turning around the dairy giant has not been smooth sailing – Tina Morrison:

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell faced a daunting task when he was asked to take the helm of the country’s largest company in 2018, but he is getting the dairy giant in shape.

The co-operative owned by its 10,000 farmer suppliers and supporting some 20,000 employees was heading for its first annual loss since its creation in 2001 after a period of big expansion failed to deliver the promised profits and left it saddled with too much debt.

Hurrell, an 18-year veteran of Fonterra and head of the Farm Source unit that worked with farmers, talked with his wife and a few close friends who backed him to take on the challenge of what was looking like a tough couple of years.

“I was under no illusion at that point in time about what needed to be done,” he says. “Clearly we needed to go about doing things differently.” . . 

Living the good life after ‘bovis’– Sally Rae:

It’s been a roller-coaster ride for South Canterbury farmers Kelly and Morgan Campbell since their cattle were the first in New Zealand to be depopulated due to Mycoplasma bovis. But they have come out the other side with a new business venture. Business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

On a lifestyle block in rural South Canterbury, Kelly and Morgan Campbell are living the good life.

Residing in their dream home, surrounded by hundreds of happy hens, their seemingly idyllic existence belies the roller-coaster ride they have lived the past few years.

Morgan Campbell arguably summed it up best by saying: “it’s a crazy story … with lots of kinks and curves … along the way. Dead cows, IVF and chickens.” . . 

Sheep numbers plummet by 800,000 in a year – Esther Taunton:

New Zealand’s sheep numbers plummeted by almost a million in 2020, new data shows.

Figures from Stats NZ put the sheep population at 26 million for the year ended June 2020, a fall of 800,000 from the previous year and a far cry from the peak of 70 million sheep in 1982.

Stats NZ agricultural production statistics manager Ana Krpo said widespread drought conditions and feed shortages were a major factor in the 3 per cent fall.

“Hawke’s Bay had the largest decrease, with the total number of sheep falling by 12 per cent (346,000) from the previous year to a total of 2.5 million as at June 2020.” . . 

Too many customers, not enough grapes, Marlborough winemakers struggling to match demand – Hugo Cameron:

Key export markets are thirsty for Marlborough wine, but low grape yields mean that demand is outstripping supply.

Frost and cold weather early in the season led to smaller harvests from many vineyards in the area and the smaller crop could leave some wineries facing tough decisions on who they can supply over the next year, industry group Wine Marlborough says

Caythorpe Family Estate owner Simon Bishell said the grape yield was about 25 to 30 percent down on the normal volume.

The business had seen plenty of fresh interest, but supplying those new customers after a slim harvest was a challenge, Bishell said. . . 

100 years on the land – Shawn McAvinue:

The Frame family recently celebrated 100 years of farming Burnbank in Teviot Valley. Shawn McAvinue talks to Bill and Gwenda Frame about how four generations have transformed the land from an unfenced block covered in gorse and rabbits to a productive sheep and beef farm.

A blanket of snow covered the land when Bill Frame was born on the sheep and beef farm Burnbank in Teviot Valley, on New Year’s Day in 1932.

When the snow melted, rabbits covered the farm in Dumbarton, near Ettrick.

As the baby boy grew, so did the rabbit population, and a dream was born. . . 

Meet challenges head-on says Beef Achiever Tracey Hayes – Shan Goodwin:

IF there is piece of advice Tracey Hayes believes has the power to guarantee a prosperous future for every sector of Australia’s beef industry, it’s the idea of never shying from a challenge.

Don’t turn a blind eye to what’s difficult, regardless of how insurmountable it may appear. Instead focus on precisely that.

These were the words from Ms Hayes after she was named the 2021 Queensland Country Life Beef Achiever at Beef Australia in Rockhampton last week.

Ms Hayes is an agribusiness executive with a beef production background and a down-to-earth persona that has made her one of the most liked, and respected, identities in the cattle game. . . 


Rural round-up

03/03/2021

Covid 19 coronavirus: Golden Shears cancelled for first time in 61-year history :

The 61st Golden Shears, which were scheduled to be held in Masterton this week, have been cancelled.

The decision was made at an emergency executive meeting this morning, following the overnight announcement of a return to Covid-19 alert level 2 across most of the country and the escalation to level 3 in Auckland.

Confirming the decision, Golden Shears said entry fees and tickets would be refunded.

Tickets purchased online through Eventfinda will be refunded, competitor entries done online will be refunded online through PayPal, and those having entered non-website are being asked to email competitor name and bank account details to office@goldenshears.co.nz. . . 

A woolly great idea – Sally Rae:

Phenomenal” is how South Otago farmer Amy Blaikie describes watching the processing of Bales4Blair wool at a Timaru scour — and seeing the piles of donations from around the country.

Bales4Blair was launched in memory of Winton man Blair Vining, whose petition to create a national cancer agency was signed by more than 140,000 New Zealanders.

The wool was given by farmers to be made into insulation for the new Southland Charity Hospital.

The initiative was started by Mrs Blaikie, who pitched the idea to a couple of friends, Eastern Southland farmers Brooke Cameron and Sarah Dooley. . . 

’Stormy fruit’ provides ray of sunshine from Motueka hailstorm – Tim Newman:

A Nelson apple company is hoping its new product will bring a ray of light out of the gloom brought on by the Boxing Day Hailstorm.

Over the weekend Golden Bay Fruit launched its new “Stormy Fruit” brand, comprised of apples which suffered cosmetic damage in the hailstorm but were otherwise unaffected.

Golden Bay Fruit chief executive Heath Wilkins said while the company had been mulling over the concept for several years – the hailstorm had significantly increased the amount of fruit that would fall into the new product line.

He said a significant portion of the fruit was severely damaged by the hail and had to be immediately picked and discarded, but there was another portion of fruit that just received small indentations on the surface. . .

Want to earn at least $22 an hour? Kiwifruit packhouses up rates – Carmen Hall:

Kiwifruit packhouses are offering workers more money and flexible shifts in a desperate effort to avoid a labour crisis as another record-breaking harvest looms.

The harvest is expected to kick off within the week with 23,000 seasonal workers needed nationally – including about 20,000 in the Bay of Plenty.

Packhouses spoken to by NZME are offering major incentives – including flexibility across shifts alongside roles that could lead to fulltime employment.

Starting rates will be $22.10 an hour compared with last year’s average hourly packhouse rates of $19 to $20. . . 

Avocados from Oaonui on your toast – Catherine Groenestein:

A tiny coastal Taranaki community known for dairy farms and a natural gas production station could one day become known for its avocados.

Oaonui, 8 kilometres north of Opunake, was identified in last year’s Taranaki Land and Climate Assessment as an area suitable for growing the fruit.

The report was part of the two-year Branching Out collaboration between economic development agency Venture Taranaki and the food and fibre sector to investigate new commercial opportunities for the region.

Next month, representatives from the avocado industry will be in New Plymouth for a seminar on growing the fruit commercially. . .

Beef demand volatile but there are green shoots – Shan Goodwin:

WITH many of Australian beef’s largest destinations still well in the grip of COVID, and tightening supply of cattle at home putting a hefty price tag on product, the demand outlook could not be described as anything other than volatile.

However, there are some solid fundamentals in place that suggest the outlook is not all doom and gloom.

Global beef consumption is still forecast to grow, Australia enjoys a reputation for safe, high quality, consistent beef and a key lesson from last year was that stable, well-established markets shine through in times of turbulence. . . .

 


Rural round-up

16/02/2021

Hackles rise over stock reduction numbers – Hamish MacLean:

A possible 15% reduction in livestock numbers on red meat and dairy farms by 2030 could break New Zealand’s under-pressure agriculture industry, some farmers fear.

While industry groups are taking a cautious approach to the Climate Change Commission’s draft advice package, its preferred path includes reduced livestock numbers by 2030.

And the already weary farming sector feared an urban-centred Government could again make changes for rural New Zealand that did not match what was happening on the ground, Riverton sheep farmer Leon Black said.

Mr Black, a former Beef + Lamb New Zealand southern South Island director, said any policy that led to fewer farms in the South would be catastrophic for rural communities. . . 

Concern over land reform changes – Annette Scott:

Changes proposed in the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill threaten the viability of high country farming for pastoral lessees.

The Bill proposes to amend the Crown Pastoral Land Act 1998 and the Land Act 1948, to end tenure review and redesign the regulatory system to deliver improved Crown pastoral outcomes.

But farmers say the Bill is poorly drafted, placing unreasonable limitations on day-to-day farming activities for pastoral leaseholders.

Farmers will be bogged down in red tape and environmental outcomes would go backwards. . . 

Zespri faces a China conundrum – Keith Woodford:

China is New Zealand’s biggest kiwifruit market. Growth of this market has been spectacular with the Zespri-owned SunGold variety much-loved by Chinese consumers. The problem is that the Chinese are also growing at least 4000 hectares of SunGold without the permission of Zespri. 

That compares to about 7000 hectares of SunGold grown in New Zealand.

The question now facing Zespri and the New Zealand kiwifruit industry is what to do about it.  There are no easy solutions.

This issue is something I discussed with local folk in the kiwifruit-growing regions of China way back in the years between 2012 and 2015. It did not need an Einstein to work out that the SunGold budwood was already there. . . 

Kiwifruit settlement a token, but an important one – Nikki Mandow:

This weekend’s settlement over PSA kiwifruit disease compensation is good news for the taxpayer, but bad news for business owners, particularly farmers. 

On Saturday morning, a group of kiwifruit growers announced they had reached a settlement with the Crown over damages they suffered after virulent kiwifruit vine disease PSA entered New Zealand. The bacteria arrived in 2009 in imported Chinese pollen because of a Ministry of Primary Industries biosecurity blunder at the border, and it devastated the industry.

The growers wanted $450 million, plus interest, to compensate them for the destruction of their orchards; in some cases the destruction of their livelihoods. 

But late on Friday night, with the final stage of a seven year-long court battle due to start in the Supreme Court today, they settled for $40 million. . . 

‘Absolutely gutted’: Maniototo A&P Show cancelled over alert level move – Yvonne O’Hara:

The Maniototo A&P Show, scheduled for Wednesday, has been cancelled.

Secretary Janine Smith said organisers made the tough decision to cancel the show after the Government moved the nation to Alert Level 2 and Auckland to Alert Level 3 on Sunday night.

The situation was being assessed by the Government every 24 hours. . . 

Cattle game is trusted; but society still wants oversight – Shan Goodwin:

Cattle producers enjoy a high level of trust by the Australian community but that does not equate to support for a relaxed regulatory environment.

This is the key finding from first-of-its-kind independent research into public perceptions of the cattle industry’s environmental performance, from a team headed up by The University of Queensland.

The work points to the need for a rethink of how the industry sometimes frames the relationship between environmental regulation and community trust.

A well-designed regulatory framework that is developed with the engagement of key stakeholders enables the demonstration of sound environmental performance and should not be framed as a burden, or the result of society being ‘on our back’, says lead researcher Dr Bradd Witt. . . 


Rural round-up

04/02/2021

Pandemic’s silver lining – Anne Boswell:

The recognition of farmers’ contribution to New Zealand’s food production system has been identified as a positive aspect of the covid-19 pandemic experience, according to a new study released by AgResearch.

One farmer experienced “a change in attitude among the public around how they value the security of food production and therefore the role of farmers in providing that food.”

Others noted “NZ agriculture is starting to be seen as an important cog in the mechanism again,” “greater recognition of the true value of agriculture and primary producers,” and “governments and communities recognised the importance to our standards of living that agriculture provides plentiful safe food and fibre.”

The study, conducted by AgResearch scientists, New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) and several science organisations in NZ and Australia, surveyed farmers and others working in the agriculture and food systems in Australasia about the impacts of covid-19 in the period through to June 2020, which included national lockdowns. . . 

Outlook for 2021 ‘bristling with risk’:

Amid significant global turbulence, New Zealand agricultural producers are poised to enjoy a fifth consecutive year of general profitability in 2021, according to a new report by Rabobank.

In the bank’s Agribusiness Outlook 2021 report, Rabobank says while the outlook for the year is “bristling with risk”, and bumps are anticipated throughout the coming months, most agricultural sectors can expect to see average to above-average pricing, manageable cost inflation and production holding up well.

Report co-author, Rabobank senior dairy analyst Emma Higgins says that as 2021 gets underway, the world is still turbulent for New Zealand’s agricultural sector. . . 

Important for UK to convert trade liberalisation narrative to action as it seeks to join CPTPP:

In welcoming the UK’s application to join the CPTPP agreement, the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is stressing the need for the UK to convert its statements of commitment to leadership in global trade liberalisation to meaningful action.

“The UK’s application to join CPTPP is another great sign of its interest in advancing global trade liberalisation. However, the real test of UK trade leadership comes from how it honours its existing commitments and what it is prepared to put on the table in negotiations” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey.

“Despite the UK’s strong statements of ambition, including for a high-quality UK-NZ FTA, we are yet to see it remedy concerns about diminished quota access following Brexit and we have detected hesitancy on its part to bringing real liberalisation to the FTA negotiating table. Avoiding a disconnect between intent and action is important if current and potential trade negotiating partners are to have confidence in the UK’s stated ambitions”. . . 

Zespri secures labs for taste tests – Richard Rennie:

Zespri has confirmed several laboratories have been approved for the next three seasons to conduct the vital taste profile tests for kiwifruit, a major component of grower payments.

Zespri’s chief global supply officer Alastair Hulbert says following an intensive three-month procurement process, a range of service providers have been selected for the tests.

They include AgFirst in Hawke’s Bay and Nelson, Hill Laboratories, Linnaeus, Pinpoint Lab Services and Verified Lab Services.

The replacement companies were necessary due to Zespri’s previous lab service Eurofins Bay of Plenty dropping the test at the start of last season, leaving the industry without the valuable test. . . 

Station site of lotus research trial – Yvonne O’Hara:

When the Garden family at Avenel Station say Lotus pedunculatus or Lotus uliginosus, they are not casting Harry Potter spells.

They are talking about the legume, Maku lotus (Lotus uliginosus)

It is a variety of trefoil that has been trialled on a 500ha block on their high country property since 2014.

Pat Garden and his brother Eion had sown lotus on the property in the 1980s.

Subsequently, Pat and his son Nick took part in the more formal research “Legumes for Hard Hill Country” trial, which was funded through the Sustainable Farming Fund, with input from PGG Wrightson Seeds, Grasslanz Ltd, AgResearch’s Dr David Stevens, and Beef + Lamb New Zealand. . . 

Offal market lifts on pandemic demand – Shan Goodwin:

OVERSEAS demand for lower-value red meat products as the pandemic continues to cut into household incomes has served the Australian offal market well, with prices across the board either firming or stable.

Meat & Livestock Australia’s latest co-product market reports shows halal kidneys recording the strongest growth, up 93 per cent year-on-year, while lungs and hearts lifted 45 and 28pc, respectively. Halal hearts averaged a solid $3.15 a kilogram, up 70c from December.

Liver prices averaged $1.28 a kilogram, 19c up month-on-month.

On the other hand, premium products such as tongue, thickskirt and rumen pillars eased somewhat. . . 


Rural round-up

14/01/2021

Work on freshwater in Southland is a nationwide first – Rachael Kelly:

Stewart Bull says he loses his mana when he has to tell visitors to his Takutai o Te Tītī Marae not to eat the kai moana.

“I don’t collect kai moana off the beach any more, at this stage. I know what’s going on, and I advise my children not to go and collect it either.

“It’s not good to stand on your marae and go ‘don’t touch the kai moana’…where is your mana if you have to stand on your own marae and express that to your visitors who are coming in?’’

For Bull, it’s about ki uta ki tai, from the mountains to the sea. . . 

Cherry pickers lose $350 a day jobs – Jared Morgan:

The $50 million loss incurred by Central Otago’s cherry growers this season impacts growers, jobs and the New Zealand economy.

Summerfruit NZ chief executive Richard Palmer said the full extent of the damage after four days of persistent and heavy rain was yet to be quantified but it was expected up to 50% of the season’s cherries had been lost due to splitting, resulting in the loss of $50million in export revenue to the country.

In addition to damaged fruit, flooding caused damage to buildings on orchards located around Earnscleugh when the Fraser River broke its banks.

Orchardists in the area said the losses were tempered by the fact flood waters receded, quickly allying fears other crops had been affected. . . 

Bid to stop 1080 drop in Hawke’s Bay fails in court – Tom Kitchin:

A legal challenge to stop a 1080 drop on Māori land in Hawke’s Bay has failed.

The Māori Land Court has released its ruling on the legal fight  following a hearing in Hastings.

Tataraakina is a 14,000 hectare block in inland Hawke’s Bay, near the highway between Napier and Taupō.

Tataraakina is managed by an ahu whenua trust, led by trustee Clinton Hemana, and has 1143 owners. . .

 The strange reason New Zealand is in the midst of a national oat milk shortage – Glenn McConnell:

Rumblings of an oat milk shortage first reached Stuff early in the New Year. Trendy café goers reported their local vegan-friendly baristas had run dry on their favourite plant-based milk.

It was a coffee crisis, and the outlook was gloomy. Would they revert to cow’s milk? Drink an overly sweet flat white with coconut milk? Or indulge in the increasingly uncool almond milk latte?

Oat milk is the up and coming among the milk alternatives. Almond remains popular, but has lost fans due to environmental concerns. The demand for almonds has caused honeybee catastrophe in the US, as California summons more than half of the country’s bees to pollinate its almond trees. The journey reportedly costs the lives of a quarter of the bees, due to pesticides and disease.

Oat is The Goat. But due to an unusually elongated supply chain for New Zealand, and unexpected rise in the popularity of oat milk, it has recently proved hard to find. . . 

Heiko Wittmer: NZ lessons to be learnt from pumas and wolves – Emile Donovan:

Lessons from how pumas and wolves interact in North America can be applied here in New Zealand, as we strive towards a predator-free 2050. 

Dr Heiko Wittmer has looked at what happened when wolves were reintroduced to Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. The wolves had a negative effect on the pumas in the park and that led to a much more balanced ecosystem. 

Heiko tells Summer Times that despite being a large and wild park, it had lost its wolf population due to culling in the early 20th century.

“Since then they have been missing and that has led to some drastic changes in the ecosystem.” . . 

It’s urgent we act on declining water storage, scientists warn – Shan Goodwin:

INTERNATIONAL scientists have highlighted the urgent need for mitigation to avoid water storage declines and increased droughts and the big role farmers in Australia, particular in the south, stand to play in that.

By the end of this century, the global land area and population living in extreme-to-exceptional drought could more than double, research directed from Michigan State University in the United States has found.

The stark warning emerged from the extensive study, which also points to the largest water declines being in Australia and South America.

The key implication is that climate change mitigation is now critical to avoid adverse water storage impacts and increased droughts, and the need for improved water resource management and adaptation is pressing. . . 

 


Rural round-up

04/01/2021

Weather: Central Otago growers attempt to salvage unharvested produce after extensive rainfall – Ruwani Perera:

Central Otago recorded its highest level of rainfall in 40 years as wild weather lashed the region.

About 150 millimetres fell on Saturday, but it means growers had the painful job of assessing the extent of the damage to their unharvested produce on Saturday and some have suffered substantial losses.

Hans Biemond of Biemond Market Gardens estimates one-third of his submerged broccoli crop won’t be able to be saved and he’s cutting his losses after the freak flood.

“If I cut them in the next wee while they’ll still be alright. By tonight they’ll all be buggered,” he says. . . 

Pivoting from production to permanent forests – Keith Woodford:

A fundamental change is occurring in the economics of production versus permanent forests. The policy environment is getting left behind

During 2019, I wrote five articles discussing land-use transformation that would be driven by forthcoming forestry investments.  One of the key themes of those articles was that New Zealand’s forestry policies are a mess. The rules are complex and confusing. Also, the alignment of those rules with the overall public good is at best debatable.

I wrote about how policy communication by Government has been driven by public relations spin about the so-called billion trees programme. It has been virtue signalling but little else.

I also wrote that the investor focus to date has largely been driven by production forestry with that focus shaped by proximity to ports rather than the most appropriate land-use.  In that context, selling carbon units has been seen as a bonus. . . 

Support keeps arable operation on the ‘case’ :

Turley Farms is a Canterbury-based, family-owned enterprise that grows vegetable, seed and pasture crops – including wheat, barley, potatoes, white clover, onions, grass seed and carrot seed.

Also on the agenda are hybrid radish, spinach, canola, sunflowers and peas for processing. During winter the business finishes store lambs, winters dairy cows and finishes some beef cattle.

The business is largely self-contained, backed by technology to keep the many wheels of its 12 prime movers rolling. Case IH tractors on the properties run from 75 to 550hp, many fitted with Case IH Advanced farming systems automated guidance, offering precision seed placement down to 2cm, delivered by Trimble RTK.

With this technology available, real-time data monitoring from the Vantage system – offered by Trimble – gives the operation insight into areas such as soil moisture levels, then by comparing the results from a weather station reading, it can calculate soil deficit and crop demand. . .

Proof of profitability in the North – Hugh Stringleman:

Far North beef farmers Dennis and Rachelle O’Callaghan have spent 20 years refining the most profitable and sustainable management system for their land and have shared every step of the way with fellow farmers and rural professionals. They spoke to Hugh Stringleman.

On their 576ha effective Te Mataa Station at Taipa, most of which drains into the Parapara Stream and Doubtless Bay, Dennis and Rachelle O’Callaghan produce 500kg/ha/year carcass weight by rearing young Friesian bulls.

This is more than twice the provincial average for any form of beef production.

Almost the whole farm is covered with intensive beef systems (IBS), being TechnoGrazing and variations on cellular systems that carry 2400 yearlings in more than 100 groups. . . 

LIC delivers world-leading genetic wealth to New Zealand dairy farmers :

Thanks to the foresight of the LIC board and its farmer shareholders, three decades of research and investment focusing on increasing the rate of genetic improvement in New Zealand dairy animals is paying off resulting in markedly increased productivity and health traits for dairy cows, and better returns for dairy farmers.

LIC Board Chair Murray King says the investment of more than $78 million over the past 26 years has built substantial genetic wealth for the New Zealand dairy industry.

“Significant investment has been made to ensure LIC leads the world in pastoral genomic science, and the board is pleased to see this paying off with all shareholders able to share in the productivity and profitability improvements,” King says.

LIC Chief Scientist Richard Spelman says the investment in genomic science has included genotyping over 150,000 animals, genomically sequencing over 1,000 animals and undertaking detailed statistical research. . . 

Ringer, pilot, diplomat … all in a day’s work for Beetaloo stockman – Shan Goodwin:

Hugh Dawson’s job description is unlike any others.

He’s a cattleman, a helicopter pilot and a maintenance man. At times he does the work of a mechanic, boilermaker, a plumber, an electrician, as well as being a human resources advisor.

He has to know about genetics, breeding, animal husbandry and animal behaviour. He could also be called an advocate, an industry leader, even a diplomat.

Such is life when one has chosen agriculture for a career. . . 


Rural round-up

29/12/2020

How to avoid harm on the farm – Rowena Duncum:

I’ve always loved rural New Zealand.

Growing up beside a farm, I’d spend hours hanging over the back fence talking to the animals or across the road in the other direction, feeding grass and carrots to the rescued horses in the SPCA paddock.

Some of my happiest memories of childhood holidays are visiting family on their farms around the country. It’s a rite of passage growing up in Aotearoa. As I reached adulthood and became a farmer myself, I loved being on the other side of the fence – hosting friends and family as they came to visit, bringing their own budding farmers to see the animals or milking. . . 

Alliance Group to repay wage subsidy in full :

Invercargill-based Alliance Group has chosen to return the balance of the Covid-19 wage subsidy to the Government.The farmer-owned meat processor had already repaid $21 million of the $34m wage subsidy and will return the balance, it said.

“From the outset, Alliance has been clear we would only use the wage subsidy in the way it was intended by government and our previous repayments reflect this commitment,” chairman Murray Taggart said in a statement.

“Following the filing of our company accounts last month, the Alliance board believes the co-operative is in a position to repay the remaining balance,” he said. . .

A2 Milk hopes to expand production at Southland plant :

A2 Milk is a step closer to taking a controlling stake in Mataura Valley Milk, but says it will be at least a couple of years before it starts making profits.

ATM disclosed its intentions in August and has now entered binding agreements to buy a 75 percent stake in the Southland based infant formula maker.

The move is part of ATM’s plans to diversify its production and broaden its range of products.

“MVM provides a unique opportunity to acquire a new world class nutritional products manufacturing capability in New Zealand, alongside a highly respected China state owned enterprise in China Animal Husbandry Group (CAHG),” A2 Milk chief executive Geoff Babidge said. . .

M. bovis eradication going to plan but still work to do:

Significant progress has been made in driving down the numbers of farms affected by Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis).


We’re on track to achieve eradication, but there’s still a lot of hard work ahead of us. We expect to find more infected herds as we actively look for those final pockets of infection, so we all need to remain vigilant.

As Programme partners, MPI, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand are working together to support affected farmers through this eradication programme. . .

Detector dogs could sniff out AFB and save beekeepers millions of dollars:

Training dogs to sniff out the highly infectious bacterial disease American Foulbrood (AFB) in beehives could save New Zealand’s beekeeping industry several million dollars a year.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is contributing $50,000 through Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) towards the one-year, $95,000 project.

The project aims to develop a scientific methodology for training detection dogs to reliably detect AFB, by creating a ‘scent picture’ of the disease. . . 

Blurred lines between animal welfare and animal ethics – Shan Goodwin:

ONE of the key elements of animal welfare science commonly misunderstood is that it is the animal’s perception of its conditions that counts, not those of humans.

So says one of the country’s leading experts in the field, Warrnambool veterinarian and senior lecturer in cattle medicine at Melbourne University Dr David Beggs.

The differences between animal welfare and animal ethics – and where the biggest challenges to livestock production may lay with the latter – was explored by Dr Beggs in a recent episode of the RawAg podcast produced by southern seedstock operation Te Mania Angus. . .


Rural round-up

11/11/2020

Vineyards, orchards still short of workers – Jared Morgan:

No shows and walkouts are dominating the hunt to find seasonal workers — particularly on vineyards — across Central Otago and the culprits are Kiwis.

Pressure is mounting on the region’s viticulture and horticulture sectors to fill the gaps left by a dearth of backpackers and Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers but finding New Zealanders willing to work is causing headaches at what was now crunch time for vineyards.

The clock was also ticking for orchards.

Misha’s Vineyard director Andy Wilkinson said the same story was echoing across the region. .  .

SJS, MPI partner to find students rural jobs -John GIbb:

The Ministry for Primary Industries is helping attract more Dunedin tertiary students to Otago fruit picking and other rural work this summer.

Student Job Search chief executive Suzanne Boyd said SJS was partnering with MPI throughout the country to connect seasonal employers to students looking for rural work.

The partnership had already begun with “Pick this, pick that”, an online marketing campaign which connected students to thousands of summer fruit picking roles jobs, until March.

“With our summer fruit growers relying on New Zealanders to get cherries picked and shipped overseas, and to pick other summer fruit for the domestic market, these roles are more important than ever,” Ms Boyd said. . .

Quarantine space impacts labour: –

A lack of space in isolation facilities will delay the availability of 210 foreign agricultural machinery operators coming to work for NZ contractors this season.

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) chief executive Roger Parton says while visas have been issued for these workers, by the time they are available for work, they will be three months too late.

“The current information I have is that we won’t be able to get any isolation facilities until the middle of December, which means they won’t be out of isolation until Christmas, which is absolutely nonsensical because the season’s halfway over,” he said.

“They’ve got the visas, they have got the travel booked, but they can’t get into the country because they can’t get a voucher for isolation. That’s causing a huge amount of stress out there.” . . 

Who foots environmental farm bill? – Nicola Dennis:

New Zealand agriculture is facing a raft of environmental reforms under the Government’s Freshwater Management National Policy Statement amendments. These include further stock exclusions from waterways, restrictions around winter grazing, audited farm environment plans and enforcing nitrogen caps.

This is in addition to greenhouse gas mitigation policies and biodiversity measures that are yet to be announced.

In general, farmers are very motivated to reduce their environmental impact, but the cost of doing so competes with rising running costs and servicing debt on land. So, who is footing the bill?

Politicians are quick to point to the export markets, which they believe will pay a premium for clean, green, NZ products. AgriHQ asked a number of NZ exporters if this was feasible. They all thought it wasn’t. . . 

No shear sheep a perfect fit :

At a time of depressed wool prices, more and more sheep farmers are looking at reducing costs – such as shearing and parasite control.

With this in mind, Mt Cass Station will host an open day – on Friday 20 November – to give farmers an opportunity to see how no-shear Wiltshires perform in a commercial environment.

The 1800ha hill country coastal property, near Waipara in North Canterbury, is farmed using organic principles. The farm is run by Sara and Andrew Heard and five other shareholders. It is under this low-input system that Andrew Heard claims the Wiltshires come into their own.

The breed’s inherent internal parasite resistance and resilience means they don’t need shearing, dagging or crutching – and they don’t get flystrike. . . 

Auckland meat heavyweight wins Christie Award:

Riki Kerere, Operations Manager of Countdown Meat & Livestock in Otahuhu, has been awarded the prestigious Christie Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the retail meat industry. Riki was recognised with this prestigious Award at the Alto Butcher, ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice & Pure South Master Butcher live stream event in Auckland this evening.

Riki Kerekere said of his win, “I’m just honoured to have joined that list of amazing people who have paved the way for the industry and made things possible for me and my career. I’m just so happy to have won.

Riki has been involved in the meat industry all his working life. Starting out as a clean-up boy he progressed over time through to a management role becoming instrumental in mentoring and training staff and apprentices at the Countdown plant in South Auckland. Riki has his own unique personal approach and knowledge which is highly respected not only by his own team, but also those in the wider meat industry. . . 

Red meat looks to shorten the path to adoption of research – Shan Goodwin:

SHORTENING the path to adoption in order to extract the full value from the millions spent each year on research and development in the red meat game has been a key mission at industry headquarters during 2020.

Service provider Meat & Livestock Australia has led the charge and at a webinar this week, the organisation’s group manager of adoption and commercialisation Sarah Strachan outlined the ‘involve and partner’ strategy that is being deployed.

At an on-the-ground level, incorporating producers into research design and having a clear line of sight to adoption was the approach being taken to accelerate the embedding of research outcomes into commercial businesses, she explained.

Producer demonstration sites were one way this was happening. . . 


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

12/10/2020

Potential animal welfare crisis looming – Sudesh Kissun:

A local vet recruitment agency says the vet shortage situation in the country is getting more dire by the day. 

Julie South, of VetStaff, says that while the Government’s recent decision to let overseas vets into the country for work is a step in the right direction, it’s nowhere near enough to cover the current shortage.

“They need to allow almost ten times that many in to ease the animal welfare and human stress and mental health issues the shortage is causing,” she told Rural News. . .

Hort’s priorities for a newly-elected government – Mike Chapman:

The biggest challenge facing horticulture is labour and we will – as a collective sector – ask the new government to focus attention in this area.

As a result of Covid, many New Zealanders need to develop new skills and take on positions in essential industries such as horticulture – industries that are pivotal to the country’s economic and social recovery.

This is no easy task. The new government will need to complete the reform of the education and training system so that it reflects post-Covid requirements for flexible delivery and the fostering of innovation.

While New Zealand’s border challenges may currently appear stark, the horticulture industry believes they can be managed in such a way to protect the health of New Zealanders while also ensuring the country can prosper economically, through access to skills and labour that can only be obtained from overseas

Composting mootels can transform dairy, but only if we get things right – Keith Woodford:

Some readers will know that I have been writing about composting mootels for the last three years. I have been suggesting that these mootels can transform New Zealand dairy.   I remain of that perspective, but only if we get things right.

When I first wrote about ‘composting mootels’, I referred to them as ‘composting barns’. Subsequently, I have stepped back from using the term ‘barn’ because it was leading to misunderstandings.   For many folk in the New Zealand dairy industry, the word ‘barn’ is like the mythical red rag to the bull.

Composting mootels are like no other type of barn. They are open structures that focus on cow comfort. Cows love them. They can be a great enhancement to animal welfare.  There is minimal smell – very different to most barns. They can fit seamlessly into New Zealand pastoral systems and in the process solve key environmental problems. . . 

Clydesdales popular centre of attention :

It was horsepower of the old-fashioned variety that proved a drawcard at the Otago Field Days in Palmerston yesterday.

John Booth, from the Dayboo Clydesdale stud in Mid Canterbury, brought Dayboo Annie and Dayboo Sam south, for wagon rides, a children’s tug-of-war today and general admiration – and plenty of pats – from field day visitors.

Mr Booth, who has 17 Clydesdales, enjoyed dealing with the public and both he and the two horses were very patient with the children clamouring for a closer look.

The two-day event, which continues today, moved back to its original site at the Palmerston Showgrounds as it was being planned during Covid-19 Alert Level 2, and allowed for more space than its previous location at the saleyards, chief executive Paul Mutch said. . . 

Rhys Hall announced as 2020 Corteva NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year:

Congratulations to Rhys Hall who became the 2020 Corteva NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year on 8th October. Hall was representing Marlborough and is Assistant Vineyard Manager at Indevin’s Bankhouse.

Congratulations also to Sam Bain from Constellation Brands who came second and George Bunnett from Irrigation Services who came third.

The other contestants were Annabel Angland from Peregrine Wines, Tahryn Mason from Villa Maria and Lacey Agate from Bellbird Spring. . .

Cattle splinter groups urged to ‘get back in the boat’ – Shan Goodwin:

CALLS for unity in advocacy, particularly where grassfed cattle producers are concerned, were made at an industry event, held both live and online, this week.

Hosted by Agforce Queensland, The Business of Beef featured four prominent Queensland producers: David Hill, Bryce Camm, Mark Davie and Russell Lethbridge.

Mr Davie kicked off the talk about the need to have a ‘strong, united, well-funded force’ working on behalf of grassfed producers.

“What I’m talking about is a restructure of CCA (Cattle Council of Australia),” he said. . . 


Rural round-up

21/08/2020

Coronavirus: Millions of bees starve to death as beekeepers held up at COVID-19 checkpoints – James Fyfe:

Millions of bees have starved to death after COVID-19 checkpoints in and out of Auckland caused a delay in beekeepers accessing their hives.

Wetex Kang of Waitakaruru Honey Limited says around 2.5 million bees died after workers were unable to travel from Waikato to Auckland to feed the bees.

Kang, who is based in Auckland, says many of his business’ 2000 beehives are scattered across the North Island, as are the staff who care for them. . . 

Women’s farm training winner – Sally Rae:

A farm training institute with a difference is opening its gates in Northern Southland next year. Business and rural editor Sally Rae finds out more.

When Covid-19 claimed the clientele of her agri-tourism venture near Kingston, Laura Douglas spent a couple of days crying inconsolably.

Still on a high from taking her farm animals to Wanaka A&P Show for a display, she received a phone call from international bus company Contiki two days later, cancelling its visits.

Those tours came through Real Country every month – every week in summer – and represented about 65% of her revenue. Corporate groups also cancelled as the country went into lockdown. . . 

Armadillo Merino aims for the moon – Neal Wallace:

Merino wool has long been praised for its versatility, but Andy Caughey tells Neal Wallace how he is taking use of this miracle fibre to a whole new level.

THE qualities of New Zealand Merino wool clothing are being tested in some of the planet’s most hostile and extreme workplaces and environments – and beyond.

Otago-raised Andy Caughey has for the past nine years been developing and promoting next-to skin Merino wool clothing and socks under his brand Armadillo Merino.

Armadillo clothing is now being considered for astronauts involved in NASA’s 2024 expedition to the moon. . . 

Arable sector must determine its future – Annette Scott:

The next five years will be crunch time for the arable sector that can choose to stand up and shine or remain under the radar and let the larger primary sectors direct New Zealand’s agri-economic development, Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) chief executive Alison Stewart says.

For many years the arable sector has been viewed as the invisible partner of NZ agriculture, given the arable industry’s predominantly domestic, commodity market focus and the fact that it has chosen to fly under the radar on most of the major policy issues affecting NZ’s economic, environmental and social development, Stewart says.

“However, I believe the invisible partner image is slowly changing and could change even more if the entire sector worked together to make it happen,” she said. . . 

Pāmu announces new GM sustainability and farming systems:

Pāmu has appointed Lisa Martin to the executive leadership team in the newly created role of General Manager, Sustainability and Farming Systems.

Ms Martin has extensive experience improving the sustainability practices of the organisations she has worked with, including seafood company Sanford where she was GM of Group Sustainability and at Downer Group where she was GM of Environment and Sustainability. She also co-founded a successful sustainability consultancy, Sustainz which provides sustainability advice to a range of organisations including New Zealand’s agricultural sector.

In her earlier career Ms Martin worked in the environmental science field in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom. . .

Sugar price rebound sweetens La Niña risk – Shan goodwin:

REBOUNDING global sugar prices are putting a spring in the step of Queensland cane growers who have been hampered by wet weather hold-ups since the crush started in early June.

Raw sugar traded in New York on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the global benchmark, broke through the US13 cents per pound barrier last week for the first time since March.

Analysts say that has been on the back of easing lockdown restrictions, the resumption of food service, strong demand from Asia where drought has hit local crops and speculative moves by funds shifting to a bullish outlook for sugar. . . 


Rural round-up

25/07/2020

Irrigation NZ restructures in response to sector’s needs:

Irrigation New Zealand is restructuring to put renewed focus on solving the tension between the fundamental need for irrigation in a post-COVID New Zealand, and the sector’s increasingly restricted licence to operate.

In addition, the loss of IrrigationNZ’s flagship conference due to lockdown meant the organisation experienced significant financial loss creating reason to review, reset and refocus.

As such, the Board of IrrigationNZ has restructured the organisation to reflect a new two-pronged approach to focus on advocacy at a national level, as well as deliver value ‘on the ground’ in the regions. The following changes have been made: . .

Rain fails to wash away problems – Colin Williscroft:

The drought might have been broken across most of Hawke’s Bay but many farmers are still dealing with its effects.

Jacqui Anderson, who with husband Wayne has farms at Waipukurau in Central Hawke’s Bay and Maraekakaho, west of Hastings, says the extended drought followed by plenty of rain over the past month has affected each property differently.

They couple have farmed at Waipukurau for 20 years, mainly trading bulls, and put plans in place early. They did a feed budget last year knowing the number of bulls they were likely to carry over winter so bought balage when it wasn’t too hard to get. . . 

From drought to deluge, farmer loses 30 hectares of grass – Amy WIlliams:

A Northland swamp farmer has lost hectares of grass to flooding just months after a drought dried up pastures.

Evan Smeath has farmed a dairy herd on his 190 hectare farm at the top end of the Hikurangi Swamp just north of Whangārei for 42 years.

“This was some of the most intense rainfall I’ve seen in all the time we’ve been here but they’re not the biggest floods,” Smeath said.

“This one came so quick, so fast, it’s done a bit of damage to the fencing and drains. . .

Māori tech business creates app to streamline job matching for seasonal workers – Bonnie Flaws:

A new app that connects seasonal workers with horticultural employers promises to streamline the hiring process.

It was notoriously difficult for horticulture businesses to find and keep skilled staff, Jobloads founder Candice Pardy said.

As a persimmon orchard owner who has struggled to find workers when needed, Pardy said she knew first-hand the frustration of employers. . . 

Want bacon but really prefer to eat lamb? Here’s the product for you – Bonnie Flaws:

Have you ever sat down to breakfast and thought: “I wish this bacon was really made of lamb?”

Auckland butcher Nadine Bates is stocking an unusual product on offer at her shop – lamb bacon. She says it’s a “mind-teasing” alternative to the traditional stuff.

And while you might think of bacon as something that solely comes from pigs, Bates says in fact it can be made from any meat. It’s the curing process that makes something bacon, not the fact that it’s pork, she says. . .

Cutting edge tech removing need for inspectors in meat plants – Shan Goodwin:

Beef and sheep meat processors are well down the road to removing the need for inspectors to come on-site to conduct audits, thanks to cutting-edge augmented reality smart glasses technology.

Australian immersive technology solution company Bondi Labs has been working for several years on wearable, artificial intelligence enabled hands-free technology that would allow for the remote seeing and assisting of tasks and operations within a meat processing facility in real-time.

The initial catalyst for the work was addressing supply chain transparency and quality assurance non-compliance issues in real time globally to build greater trust and confidence in those supply chains. . .


Rural round-up

25/03/2020

Farmers urged to continue producing food:

New Zealand farmers are being urged to carry on producing food while respecting coronavirus guidelines issued by the Government.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis says farming is classified as an essential service, so is milk and meat processing.

Lewis says that meat and dairy companies will continue to operate as the country moves into the highest level of alert for coronavirus from midnight Wednesday. . . 

Coronavirus: Farmers’ mental health important says Katie Milne -:

Farmers may be used to isolation but they still need to take care of their mental health says Federated Farmers president Katie Milne.

As efforts to slow the Covid-19 outbreak escalate in New Zealand, people are being asked to stay home and keep their distance from others, while social gatherings and events have been also cancelled.

As a result, farmers may find themselves cut off from everyday rural events that afford them much-needed social interaction, such as rugby games and catch ups at the pub. . . 

Friendly solution to farm water issues – Richard Davison:

A farmer-led catchment monitoring group wants to expand its activities following a successful first year.

In 2014, the Pathway for the Pomahaka water quality improvement project was launched in West Otago, which led to the establishment of the Pomahaka Water Care Group.

Last February, the award-winning group launched the latest phase of its action plan, in the shape of a ‘‘Best Practice Team’’ of 12 volunteers, set up to provide ‘‘self-policing’’ of water quality compliance among the catchment’s about 600 farms.

Team co-ordinator Bryce McKenzie — who farms 700 cows on 320ha adjoining the Pomahaka River — said the concept had worked well during its inaugural year. . . 

Westland Milk unveils Covid-19 strategy:

Westland Milk Products says Covid-19 is causing “minimal disruption” to its supply chains, with the company working to meet rising demand from China.

The second-largest dairy enterprise in New Zealand says domestic demand for its product range is also remaining consistent.

To keep up with demand in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, the company this morning announced that it is issuing measures to keep staff well and the factory running. . . 

Research reveals fodder beet value – Annette Scott:

New research into fodder beet shows portion control is critical to ensure safe feeding to dairy cows.

Fodder beet is widely used on South Island dairy farms as a versatile, high-energy, high-yield crop that allows cows to put on body condition quickly, if transitioned correctly. 

“This makes it an attractive option for farmers but because of the high sugar content careful transitioning onto the crop is critical,” DairyNZ senior scientist Dawn Dalley said.

The Sustainable Use of Fodder Beet research project confirms the crop can be a key part of dairy farm systems. . . 

 

Butchers run off their feet – and it’s not expected to ease – Shan Goodwin:

As butchers report they are now mincing higher value cuts like rump to keep up with astronomical demand, marketing experts and psychologists suggest empty red meat supermarket shelves are likely to be around for months.

It’s not that Australia will run out of beef. Export and food service orders are already being diverted to retail cabinets.

Rather, the unfolding dynamics of consumer behaviour amid the virus crisis indicates the inclination to fill freezers won’t fade. . . 


Rural round-up

21/12/2019

 Australian farmers receive sick letters telling them to ‘use a bullet on themselves – Karen Ruiz:

Farmers across NSW have become the targets of abusive letters urging them to ‘use a bullet’ on themselves if they ‘can’t handle’ the drought. 

Several residents in Dubbo, Walgett and Peak Hill in the state’s western region reported receiving the disturbing notes last month, police said.  

One of the letters, obtained by The Daily Telegraph, had been typed in a large font on white paper and is believed to have been hand delivered.   . . 

Profit shortfall from regenerative grazing spelt out – Shan Goodwin:

ANALYSIS has shown running a livestock operation under regenerative agriculture principles over a period of ten years sets profit back to the tune of $2.46m.

The work by prominent farm business consultants Holmes Sackett found farms not classified as RA systems generated operating returns of 4.22 per cent, compared to those who were classified RA returning only 1.66pc.

Holmes Sackett director John Francis said the analysis was not a criticism of the philosophy of RA but an analysis of the financial performance of these systems relative to other farm management practices. .

Farmers’ tips for staying well :

How do other farmers look after themselves and their teams? Check out the advice below, including some great ideas from Farmstrong.

Farmstrong’s top tips

Farmstrong is a nationwide, rural wellbeing initiative that helps farmers and their families cope with the ups and downs of farming. Here are some of its suggestions for keeping well.

    • Stay connected – Surround yourself with a network of people you can reach out to. It can be as simple as having a conversation in the pub or over the fence.
    • Keep active – Biking, walking, hunting, team sport – whatever appeals. It keeps you ‘farm fit’, boosts your mood and gets you off-farm.
    • Enjoy the small stuff – When you’re working, take a moment to stop and enjoy the view or the nature. Not a bad office, is it?
    • Eat well – Make sure you have enough fuel in the tank to keep your energy levels up.
    • Look after yourself, look after your team – People are the most important part of the dairy sector. . .

Sheep milk more easily digested than cow milk – study:

Sheep milk’s protein is more readily digested and its fats are more readily converted into energy compared to cow milk, a New Zealand study has shown. The milk’s unique composition could make it a good option for the very young and the elderly, sports nutrition, and people who are looking for alternatives to cow’s milk, researchers say.

Anecdotally, evidence from consumers already suggests that sheep milk may be better tolerated than cow milk by some people.

This is believed to be the first human study in the world to investigate how differences in the composition of New Zealand sheep milk affect ease of digestion, digestive comfort, and the body’s ability to make use of milk protein. . . 

Fonterra to streamline Chilean operations:

Fonterra has purchased the minority interest in Prolesur, held by Fundación Isabel Aninat (the Fundación), as the Co-op looks to streamline its operations in Chile.

The Fundación has sold its 13.6% shareholding for $29.3 million NZD, which takes Fonterra’s ownership of Prolesur from 86.2% to 99.9%.

Prolesur is a milk processor in southern Chile which sells most of its production to Soprole. Soprole is a leading consumer branded dairy company in Chile and is 99.9% owned by Fonterra. . . 

Strong start to dairy export season:

Dairy led the rise in goods exports in November 2019 as milk powder exports reached $1.1 billion, Stats NZ said today.

This is the highest value of milk powder exports for a November month since dairy exports peaked in 2013.

The value of dairy exports (milk powder, butter, and cheese) increased $348 million in November 2019. Dairy was the main contributor to total goods exports reaching $5.2 billion, up $371 million from the same month last year. . . 

Big effort to deliver sustainable premium for NZ food:

Much has been made about New Zealand’s status as “100% Pure” and how much, or how little, needs to be done to keep that claim valid.

While that debate rumbles on, the primary sector has been doing much to deliver on Prime Minister Jacinda Adern’s promise to the United Nations in September 2019 that New Zealand will be “the most sustainable food producing country in the world.”

As overseas consumers have become increasingly sophisticated and demand to know where their food has been sourced from, all parts of the New Zealand primary sector have been working to ensure the “paddock to plate” story is more than just a story.  . . 


Rural round-up

08/10/2019

Green Rush: Foreign forestry companies NZ’s biggest landowners – Kate Newton & Guyon Espiner:

The four largest private landowners in New Zealand are all foreign-owned forestry companies, an RNZ investigation has found.

Despite a clampdown on some overseas investment, including a ban on residential sales to offshore buyers, the Labour-led government has actively encouraged further foreign purchases of land for forestry through a stream-lined ‘special forestry test’.

Since the government was formed, the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) has approved more than $2.3 billion of forestry-related land sales – about 31,000 hectares of it previously in New Zealand hands.

Of that, about half has been sold via a streamlined ‘special forestry test’ introduced by the government last October. . . 

Have your say on water – David Burger:

DairyNZ is working flat tack on assessing the Government’s proposed Essential Freshwater Package.

It is of huge significance to farmers and some of the specific proposals are causing concern, particularly at a time when there is so much to do on-farm. 

The time frames for consultation are extremely short, especially given the amount of change being proposed, the complexity of the issues and the sheer volume of material to understand.

Since it was released DairyNZ’s water quality scientists, policy experts and economists have been working through the details to understand their implications on the environment, dairy farming families and our communities.  . .

Farmers’ riparian planting pays for West Otago pool’s new roof – Jo McCarroll:

A few years ago Lloyd McCall, then chair of the Pomahaka Water Care Group, was thinking about the riparian planting needed along the region’s farms’ roughly 4000km of waterway.

“So I worked out how many plants we’d need and it was lots,” he says.

At the same time, McCall was on the committee fundraising to put a new roof on the West Otago Swimming Pool. . .

Successful wintering starts with planning in spring :

Careful planning in spring is an important part of successful wintering and it starts with choosing the right paddocks to grow winter crops in, DairyNZ South Island head Tony Finch says.

”Choosing your paddocks is a crucial part of planning for winter,” Mr Finch said.

”Critical source areas, waterways, shelter, water troughs and being prepared for prolonged weather events all need to be taken into account when selecting a paddock.”

Critical source areas are low-lying parts of a farm, such as gullies and swales, where water flows after rain events. . .

Geraldine High School student named Aorangi TeenAg Member of the Year:

A stroke of luck seven years ago has put a Geraldine student on a path to becoming an arable agronomist.

Ben Chambers, 17, is about to embark on his final set of exams at Geraldine High School.

The Year 13 student has been secretary of the school’s thriving TeenAg club for the past two years. . .

How feeding cattle contributes to national security – Shan Goodwin:

FORGET endless data sets and science-back evidence, the path to communicating with anti-meat campaigners is in changing our own mindset and being able to communicate our ‘why’ in an engaging manner.

So says Colonel Sam Barringer, a veterinarian by trade who spent 30 years in the US Air Force and US Army, during which time he was deployed to 25 different countries and earnt numerous medals and awards for exemplary performance in combat.

Col Barringer today provides technical assistance to Diamond V ruminant teams and plays a key role in the company’s food safety initiatives. He also has extensive knowledge in human behavioural science. . .

 


Rural round-up

30/01/2019

Tourist demands leave rural practices without a GP for hours – Tess Brunton:

The pressure of having to look after an influx of tourists is leaving some rural doctor’s practices without a GP for hours on end. 

In an emergency, doctors have to abandon the patients at their practices to go out to help. 

They are worried that will happen more often as tourist numbers increase – and they will not have any extra support. . . 

High deer prices sustainable – Neal Wallace:

High and stable venison and velvet prices have been reflected in strong demand for stags with a top price of $155,000 paid for a velvet-trophy animal sold by Crowley Deer from Hamilton.

It was not alone in achieving phenomenal prices.

The Stevens family from Netherdale stud in Southland sold a velvet stag for $90,000, another Southland stud, the Elder family’s Altrive stud, got $75,000 for a velveting stag, Brock Deer from Gore sold a velvet stag for $70,000 and Tower Farms, Cambridge, made $65,000 for a velvet-trophy stag. . .

Cannabis firm soared to new highs – Luke Chivers:

An East Coast company will be the first to import stronger cannabis under new biosecurity laws.

Hikurangi Cannabis in Ruatoria has been granted permission to cultivate 16 new varieties of cannabis – including some of the first high-THC strains to be legally imported – for medicinal use.

The new cultivars include five varieties with high levels of THC, the main psychoactive compound found in cannabis. . .

Pace of change keeps getting quicker – Allan Barber:

Perhaps it’s my advancing age, but it seems as though the changes facing agriculture demand ever faster reactions and responses to stay ahead or even just to keep pace with a whole series of challenges: public expectation, government regulation, consumer tastes, changing climate patterns, and new technologies as well as the usual ones like finances, human resources and health pressures, both physical and mental.

In this age of apparently unlimited opportunity to access advice and assistance, whether from consultants, bankers, accountants, lawyers, IT experts, processors or industry bodies, there’s almost too much choice. The main challenge is choosing between products, services and advice which cover the range from the merely desirable or useful to the downright essential. . .

Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award nominations open in February:

Nominations to a national award that recognises dairy farmers who demonstrate leadership in their approach to sustainable dairying and who are ambassadors for the industry open February 1st.

The Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award was introduced last year by the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards to recognise those dairy farmers who are respected by their farming peers and their community for their attitude and role in sustainable dairying. Entry for this award is by nomination only via dairyindustryawards.co.nz . .

Is the vegan health halo fading? – Shan Goodwin:

VEGANISM’S health halo appears to be dissipating with the spread of nutritional advice that highly-processed packaged offerings are little more than junk food and as everyday consumers push back against overzealous campaigning.

Big United Kingdom movement Veganuary, which urges people to ditch animal products for the month of January, has backfired for the anti-meat army, many marketers and nutritional experts believe.

Health writers have used the event to take a close look at the nutritional values of a vegan diet and have come up with headings like “Just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy” and “Vegans take more sickies.” . .


Rural round-up

25/11/2018

Love of cattle leads to stud – Fritha Tagg :

Determined 14-year-old Waikato girl Tayla Hansen who is putting her stamp on the Speckle Park beef breed is quite possibly once of the youngest stud owners in the land.

Hansen, who lives with her mum Brenda, dad Andrew and siblings Cooper, 12, Alexis, 9, and Mitchell, 7, on a small lifestyle block at Orini near Huntly is the proud owner of Limited Edition Speckle Park stud.

As a young girl attending a country school she always had a calf for calf club but had to give them back to the farmer. She wanted a calf of her own that she could keep.  . . 

Science and complexity a great challenge – Barbara Gilham:

Creating the perfect cow for New Zealand herds is at the heart of LIC’s work. Barbara Gilham reports.

THERE are three things Wayne McNee looks for in a job – complexity, challenges and science.

As the chief executive of Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) he is in charge of overseeing the nation’s herds and their reproductive performance so deals with all three daily.

Add to that about 700 staff throughout New Zealand, increasing to 2500 during the peak dairy breeding season and LIC’s offices in Britain, Ireland, Australia and the United States and agents in South America and South Africa and he has plenty to keep him occupied. . . 

Meet DairyNZ’s biosecurity team:

Diversity and reach come to mind when talking about DairyNZ’s biosecurity team, as each member comes from a different background and works with many others from DairyNZ and beyond. We put our biosecurity senior adviser Dave Hodges under the spotlight.

What does your team do and why?

There are four people in our team: Liz Shackleton started as biosecurity manager last month, based in Wellington, while Nita Harding and I are in Hamilton, and Katherine DeWitt is in Invercargill.

We work across science, policy and farmer engagement, focusing on insect pests, weeds and diseases and preventing new organisms getting into New Zealand. We talk directly with farmers and work with (and are supported by) DairyNZ staff across the business, plus others in the sector and elsewhere. . . 

Large scale mānuka investment a first for New Zealand:

Comvita has partnered with rural investment company MyFarm to offer New Zealanders the opportunity to own mānuka plantations for honey production.

MyFarm chief executive Andrew Watters said the collaboration was the first large scale mānuka investment of its kind in New Zealand and signalled a new era for North Island hill country profitability for specific locations.

“This partnership and investment opportunity ticks all the boxes. It will increase export returns from high value mānuka honey and generate excellent returns for investors. From an environmental perspective, we are storing carbon, reducing soil sediment loss and improving biodiversity. We don’t foresee a more green investment than this.” . . 

Achieving target weights in hoggets:

Veterinarians and farmers working together to improve stock performance must emphasise two aspects of hogget growth, say the authors of a guidebook published by Massey University Press.

These are, firstly, regular recording of bodyweight from weaning to first mating; and secondly, the monitoring of animal health and feed requirements.

Guessing the thrift and weight of ewe lambs and hoggets is not reliable; many a farmer who claims to have a ‘good eye’ for stock has been astonished when confronted with ‘hard data’ of weighed sheep. . . 

Red meat’s structure “a burning platform” – Shan Goodwin:

THE possibility the way the red meat industry is set up and run could be driving division between sectors of the supply chain is what has fuelled a review of the document that governs it, the Memorandum of Understanding.

In a rare and comprehensive insight into what is behind the forming of a high calibre taskforce to pick through the structure and operations of the industry, the man at the helm of industry umbrella body the Red Meat Advisory Council has spoken candidly about how resources and investment levels are perhaps being constrained.

Don Mackay says it is supply chains that produce food for customers, not farmers or processors operating in isolation. . . 


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