Rural round-up

21/09/2022

Time to reopen the GE in agriculture debate – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Ideologically-based beliefs are preventing consumers from experiencing the benefits that gene editing in agriculture can bring, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

It is over two decades since the Royal Commission on genetic modification (GM) responded to the task of evaluating the technology within the context of New Zealand.

The major theme of the 473-page report was self-described as “preserving opportunities”.

The authors went to considerable lengths to explain the different concerns and perspectives of New Zealanders who, by and large, were comfortable with GM for medical purposes, but were less so in food production. . . 

Holy cow milk is best!  – Warren McNab:

 Plant-based beverages are expensive and provide only a small fraction of the nutritional goodness of cow’s milk.

These are the findings of a new study, published in the Frontiers in Nutrition journal (August 8), which assessed the nutritional profiles of a range of plant-based beverages – such as soy, oat, coconut, almond or rice drinks – and compared them to standard bovine milk.

Researchers collected 103 plant-based products from supermarkets in Palmerston North, New Zealand. These drinks were found to have much lower quantities of the 20 nutrients measured – such as calcium and protein – and were significantly more costly than cow’s milk.

The study was carried out by Riddet Institute scientists, from Massey University, in Palmerston North. The Riddet Institute is a Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE), hosted by Massey University. . .

HortNZ says National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land is critical :

The National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land will provide protection for the country’s best land and soil so it can be used to produce food.

‘Covid has taught us that we can’t take for granted that there’ll always be New Zealand grown vegetables and fruit on our retailers’ shelves,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Nadine Tunley.

‘HortNZ has advocated for nearly a decade for government policy that recognises the importance of our best soils, and ensures that they are prioritised for what they are best for – producing healthy vegetables and fruit.

‘All along, we have said that with good planning, New Zealand can have fresh vegetables and fruit, and houses.’ . . 

ORC consent map upgraded to be farmer-friendly :

Otago Regional Council (ORC) has upgraded its online consent mapping site in a move designed to make the service more farmer-friendly.

The map, Consents in Otago, now includes a property-by-address, legal description or consent number search function, satellite imagery similar to Google Maps, plus named waterways, a polygon/draw tool and also a print button, says Alexandra King, ORC team leader consents.

“It’s now much more user friendly for farmers who’re working through the mapping part of their applications, specifically intensive winter grazing plans,” she says.

King says the tool allows farmers to easily identify and measure blocks throughout their farms, and help them in identifying risk areas/sensitive receptors on-farm such as critical source areas, waterways, wetlands or water bores. . .

Who will join the next generation of beekeepers? :

Mossop’s Honey and Apiculture New Zealand are looking for the next Ron Mossop Youth Scholarship recipient to get a boost into the apiculture industry.

The scholarship was set up five years ago as a way of giving young people the best possible start in the apiculture industry. It includes $2000 to be put towards best-practice training or set-up costs, membership of industry body Apiculture New Zealand for a year, attendance at the industry’s national conference in the year of the award and an accommodation allowance for Conference.

Last year’s recipient, Alyssa Wilson from Canterbury, is currently finishing off a Primary ITO course the scholarship helped pay for. The course involves writing about and photographing her practical experience working at Gowanleagold with beekeeper James Corson, where she says she is “learning heaps”.

While attending the Apiculture New Zealand Conference in Christchurch this year, Alyssa says she particularly enjoyed listening to Dr Sammy Ramsey, one of the international speakers from the United States. . . 

Fears Australian farm labour woes may worsen with loss of UK backpackers under trade deal – Khaled Al Khawaldeh:

Rosie Bradford arrived from the UK in November 2019 on a working holiday visa ready to trade in some of her youthful energy for the chance to enjoy the Aussie sun for an extra year or two.

“The only reason I went to do it [farm work] was obviously to get my second and third year. I was so focused on that but after doing it, I would definitely say I would have still done it,” she said.

“I absolutely do not regret doing farm work at all. I learned a lot from those experiences. And I met so many amazing people. But to be honest [without the compulsion] I probably wouldn’t have done … I probably wouldn’t have been that interested.”

Bradford would end up spending three years working in parts of the country where most Australian workers do not venture. Picking bananas in Tully, oranges and mandarins in Gayndah, grafting in Tasmania, and even working on a fishing boat in Darwin. Like many of her compatriots, she helped fill a gap in a workforce stretched thin in a vast, but highly urbanised, country. . . 


Rural round-up

28/06/2022

Farmers start new dairy season on an encouraging note as Fonterra signals another record milk price – Point of Order:

New  Zealand’s  dairy  industry, which is  proving  again it is  the  backbone of  the  country’s  export industries, has  been  given  fresh encouragement with the big  co-op Fonterra signalling  a  record  milk price for  the  season  that  has  just  opened.

It  comes  as the  payout  for  the  just-finished  season  stands  as  the  highest  since  the  co-op  was  formed in 2001.

So although farmers have  made  decisions for  this  season on  the  number  of  cows  they  are  milking,  they  have the  incentive  to go  hard on production  levels,  despite the  pressure  from  higher  costs  and worries  over climate changes measures, including  projected charges on emissions.

Fonterra’s buoyant  forecast contrasts with  a recent  report  by agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank  which  said that despite global milk production looking set to decrease for the fourth consecutive quarter in Q2 2022, weakening global demand is expected to create a scenario that will see moderate price declines in dairy commodities during the second half of the year. . . 

How we are suckling the sheep milk industry government invests $7.97m in partnership which involves state-owned Landcorp – Point of Order:

Damien O’Connor scored twice – he issued one statement as Minister of Trade and another as Minister of Agriculture – while rookie Emergency Relief Minister Kieran McNulty broke his duck, announcing flood relief for the West Coast.

Covid-19 Response Minister Ayesha Verrall put more runs on the board, too, with a statement about Government work to combat new and more dangerous variants of COVID-19.

In his trade job, O’Connor declared he was pleased with the quick progress of the United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement Legislation Bill that was introduced to the House yesterday.

It would  enable New Zealand to implement its obligations under the FTA and was necessary to bring the FTA into force, he explained. . . 

 

Kiwifruit sector forecasts drop in profits :

The kiwifruit sector is predicting lower profits this year, as yields drop and shipping costs continue to climb.

Kiwifruit marketer Zespri has sent out an update to growers which shows a decent drop in profit is expected this year.

Last year Zespri made a record $361.5 million, but this year that is expected to drop to between $227m and $247m.

Company spokesperson Carol Ward said it had been a difficult season. . . 

Have your say on the Forests Legal harvest Assurance Amendment Bill :

The Chairperson of the Primary Production Committee is now calling for public submissions on the Forests (Legal Harvest Assurance) Amendment Bill.

The bill would amend the Forests Act 1949 to establish a legal harvest system. This system aims to provide assurance that timber supplied and traded has been harvested legally. The legal harvest system would:

· require that log traders, primary processors, importers, and exporters who operate above specified thresholds to be registered

· require harvest information to be supplied to others when trading, and for records of that information to be kept . . 

Groundspread NZ is the new public face for the New Zealand groundspread fetilisers association :

Groundspread NZ (NZGFA) was established in 1956 to promote and protect the interests of both individuals and companies involved in the groundspread fertiliser industry. The Association is made up of 110 voluntary members from throughout New Zealand, with each member committed to promoting best practice fertiliser placement. Precision placement of fertiliser requires skilled operators, sound spreading equipment and appropriate fertilisers.

Groundspreaders are typically the first step in ensuring on-farm productivity, by spreading nutrients accurately and evenly, using the latest technology, finely calibrated vehicles, and highly trained operators, groundspreaders help farmers and growers get the best out of their nutrient spend. The skill involved in groundspreading means that food production in New Zealand gets the best start possible.

The new name and website better share the story of how the Association’s members contribute to on-farm performance. The new name and website are initiatives driven by the Association’s new and ambitious strategic plan, committed to ensuring best practice in the groundspread industry. Farmers and growers can now visit www.groundspreadnz.com to find a spreader in their area, learn more about how the Association supports members to operate at the high level that they do, and learn more about the Spreadmark scheme.

Spreadmark, established by Groundspread NZ (NZGFA) in 1994, was born from a commitment by the Association’s members to improve spreader performance and outcomes for their clients and the environment. Proper placement of fertiliser is of considerable agronomic benefit to farmers and growers and helps protect the environment from the undesirable side effects of poor fertiliser spreading practices. . . 

Greenfern industries attains important industry certification :

Greenfern Industries Limited (GFI:NZX) is pleased to announce it has attained its globally-recognised GACP (Good Agriculture and Collection Practice) certification for its cultivation facility based in Normanby, Taranaki.

“This is a milestone that the team has been working towards for some time since commencing cultivation and research and development in our pilot stage one facility,” said Greenfern’s managing director Dan Casey.

GACP guidelines were developed to create a single supranational framework to ensure appropriate and consistent quality in the cultivation and production of medicinal plant and herbal substances. They were developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2003 with the aim of improving the quality of medicinal plants being used in herbal medicines in the commercial market.

Greenfern’s certification was undertaken by Control Union Medicinal Cannabis Standards (CUMCS). Control Union Israel was one of the partners which formulated the Israeli Cannabis Standard, which is a global standard. Since then, they have been involved with the development of the Medical Cannabis Standard GAP. . . 


Rural round-up

21/06/2022

Climate change farming and a timely reminder for decision makers the Paris conventions nod to the need for food – Point of Order:

An earlier post  on Point  of  Order about farming and climate change attracted  some interesting  comments.  The  post  itself  contended  that in view of the world  facing  a  global food  shortage the government  should be  doing everything in its power  to lift  food production — and  not  imposing  taxes  on methane  emissions (in  other words  taxing the   burps on animals}.

In the  wake  of  posting our thoughts, Point of  Order  was reminded  that the  Paris  Convention on Climate  Change  in  2015 finished  with an agreement   where Article 2  read with these  key  lines:

Article 2
1. This Agreement, in enhancing the implementation of the Convention,
including its objective, aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of
climate change, in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty, including by :

(b) Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate
change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions
development, in a manner that does not threaten food production. . . 

Massive unjust counter-productive land grab by government :

The latest iteration of the National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPSIB) is a massive land grab on a scale not seen in New Zealand for 140 years, Groundswell NZ spokesman Jamie McFadden says.

“This policy, as drafted, turns biodiversity into a liability and penalizes those that have done the most in looking after the environment.”

“Under this policy, the more you do to look after nature on your land, the worse off you will be. It is punitive regulation that does nothing positive for the environment.”

“Tens of thousands of both urban and rural property owners will be impacted and millions of dollars will be collectively wiped off property values.” . .

Ag holding strong despite major challenges :

New Zealand is a trading nation. We are respected by the world and the best at what we do.

Despite a pandemic, disruption to global supply chains, rapidly rising inflation, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a lack of RSE workers, our food and fibre exports have outperformed expectations. In fact, by June 30, they will have brought in $52.2 billion in revenue.

I recently returned from a Parliamentary trip to Europe. Zoom is a wonderful invention, but nothing can beat sitting at a table face-to-face with farming representatives to discover areas of collaboration and where we differ.

With the Russian/Ukrainian situation, food and energy security were to the fore, given Ukraine is Europe’s second-largest supplier of corn and wheat to the European Union, as well as countries in Asia and Africa. Growers and their lands will take a long time to recover from the devastating assault they are being subjected to. . . 

Time to build on our competitive advantage, KPMG says – Hugh Stringleman:

The primary sector is doing a remarkable job of trading, growing and keeping delivering record returns to the New Zealand economy when such returns are so desperately needed.

But this year’s KPMG Agribusiness Agenda reports a sector that is muddled, opportunity-packed and risk-burdened, global head of agribusiness and author Ian Proudfoot says.

When interviewing agribusiness leaders this year the first comment was “now, where do we start?”

No single theme or trend stood out in the interviews, unlike past years. . . 

Farming sector touts emissions reducing technology amid He Waka Eke Noa criticism – Hamish Cardwell:

The agricultural sector says big strides have been made in research to reduce climate emissions, but considerable uncertainty remains about when the technology will actually be available for farmers.

The primary sector’s proposal He Waka Eke Noa to price its emissions was  criticised by climate activists for relying far too much on unproven technology to make cuts.

Meanwhile, farmer group Groundswell – which also hates the proposal – says after decades and millions of dollars spent there is still no mitigation technology on the market.

Industry leaders have told RNZ about what tech looked promising, what the challenges were and how long farmers would have to wait. . .

Predator Free 2050 Ltd announces $4.8m for new tech and new jobs :

Thanks to funding from the Government’s Jobs for Nature Mahi mō te Taiao programme, Predator Free 2050 Limited (PF2050 Ltd) has today announced $4.8 million in funding for seven companies developing predator eradication tools and ‘best practice’ for their use, while creating and supporting jobs.

The funding is being invested through the ‘ Products to Projects’ initiative, launched in 2019 to accelerate development and commercialisation of new tools that will help groups working to achieve mainland eradication of possums, rats and mustelids at landscape scale without the use of fences.

Now, three years on, a number of new tools are already available to buy and are successfully in use, with many more only months away. PF2050 Ltd Science Director Professor Dan Tompkins said it’s crucial to be continually innovating to get New Zealand to the 2050 national eradication goals at pace.

“Products to Projects is providing options for more efficient and cost-effective ways of achieving and maintaining predator eradication. These new investments include smart self-resetting kill-traps that use A.I. to prevent non-target species from being harmed, remote reporting of both live-captures in cage-traps and bait levels in bait-stations, new ways of targeting rats and stoats, and systems to use ‘SWARM’ satellites for device communications in remote regions,” Prof Tompkins said. . . 


Rural round-up

22/04/2022

‘It will be hard to find a farmer left’: Sri Lanka reels from rash fertiliser ban – Hannah Ellis-Petersen:

Driving through the verdant landscape of Rajanganaya, a rural district in north Sri Lanka where the hibiscus flowers pop out of rich green foliage and the mango trees are already weighed down by early fruit, it is hard to imagine this is a community in crisis. Yet for many of those who have farmed this land since the 1960s, mainly with rice and banana crops, the past year has been the toughest of their lives.

“If things go on like this, in the future it will be hard to find a farmer left in Sri Lanka,” said Niluka Dilrukshi, 34, a rice paddy farmer.

Sri Lanka is grappling with the worst economic crisis since its independence in 1948, and foreign currency reserves sit at their lowest level on record due to what many see as gross economic mismanagement by the government. There is barely a citizen of this south Asian island who hasn’t felt the bite of catastrophic inflation and fuel, food and medicine shortages in recent weeks.

For the farmers of Sri Lanka, their problems began in April last year when President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who now stands accused of pushing the country into financial ruin, implemented a sudden ban on chemical fertilisers. . . 

Learning how to handle tough times :

Farmer Hamish Murray now knows the importance of soft skills for his family’s high-country sheep and beef farm in Marlborough.

The trigger for this was when he went through one of the region’s toughest droughts in 2014-15.

“My cup was empty; I had nothing left to give. When I reached emotional breaking point, it was obvious that to be successful at leading others, I needed to look at myself first. Soft skills aren’t a typical priority on-farm, but they matter the most if you want to attract, train and retain the best team.”

Mr Murray is sharing his experience at Bluff Station, in the Clarence River Valley, as part of a new initiative funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries to have more great workplaces in the food and fibre sector. . .

 

Rewards of milking sheep starting to flow through :

A Waikato family among the first to enter the commercial dairy sheep industry is starting to see the rewards of their hard work as they come to the end of their second season.

Paul and Dianne White set up Green Park Sheep at Kio Kio near Te Awamutu in 2020 for their sons Brad and Kieran to operate.

They began milking 850 sheep on the 81-hectare property through a 40-aside Agili Rapid Exit parlour, which was originally an old inline shed for cows.

Its conversion into a sheep milking plant was designed by Waikato Milking Systems and installed by Qubik. . . 

Shrek 2: the sequel– Annette Scott:

An elusive Merino wether is feeling a whole lot lighter after being the star of Tekapo’s annual Easter Monday market.

The Sawdon Station hermit has been evading capture for four years before being spotted on Mt Edward, near Tekapo, by staff on the station’s annual wether muster.

“We were getting the wethers in for belly crutching and he was spotted but again reluctant to come in so staff went back with Ziggy (the dog), rounded him up and finally got him in,” station owner Gavin (Snow) Loxton said.

“We named him Shrekapo and decided he could have his time of fame on the shearing board.” . . 

Fashion maven of the Maniototo – Jill Herron:

World War II veteran and Central Otago high-country farmer Eden Hore had a surprising sideline: collecting designer dresses. These days, the dresses show up in fancy settings such as Lower Hutt’s Dowse gallery

Fashion-loving farmer Eden Hore had a garden fountain big enough to entrap a horse and a personality to match.

A collector, stockman, tourism pioneer and innovator-at-large, Hore is best known for combining traditional high-country farming out the back of Naseby with curating an historically significant dress collection.

The 1970s and 80s gowns are undeniably fab, most recently knocking the socks off visitors to an exhibition in Wellington. Equally remarkable, however, is his array of other innovations, collections and calamities. . . 

Highly productive riverside Marlborough vineyard placed on the market for sale :

A highly productive 245-hectare vineyard in New Zealand’s premier grape-growing region – sustained by a fully consented 150,000 cubic metre dammed reservoir – has been placed on the market for sale.

The north-facing block in the Wairau Valley region of Marlborough sits adjacent to the Wairau River near its intersection with the Wye River and is one of the most westerly wineries in the valley. It is a member of the Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand organisation.

Known as Weta Estate, the land and dammed reservoir at 4336 State Highway 63 comprise some 207 canopy hectares of sauvignon blanc, pinot gris, and pinot noir vines sitting on five different land titles.

Weta Estate vineyard has two Resources Management Act consents from Marlborough District Council to draw and store up to 14,730 cubic metres of water a day for irrigation, with the water permitted to be stored in the reservoir. . . 


Rural round-up

24/02/2022

Emissions pricing could put billion dollar hit on earnings but no hit on emissions – Andrew Hoggard:

In discussions on He Waka Eke Noa proposals with farmers I’m often asked “how does this all square with the Paris Agreement, and the multiple mentions the text of the Agreement makes on needing to make emissions reductions but not at the cost of food production?”.

It’s a valid question. The Paris Agreement is crystal clear on this point, with the preamble “Recognizing the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger…” and article 2 committing signatories to climate adaptation and emissions mitigation “… In a manner that does not threaten food production”.

As we know, New Zealand agriculture has world-leading greenhouse gas footprints. If we reduce our production to meet emissions targets, supply in the world market will initially decrease but demand will not. The United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has estimated the world’s farmers will need to increase food production by 70% by 2050 if we are to adequately feed growing populations. Global consumers are not going to stop wanting what New Zealand farmers are producing.

The price will therefore likely rise in response to a decrease in New Zealand output, encouraging other countries to supply more as it will now be profitable for them to do so. If they have a higher emissions footprint per kilo of product, then world emissions will go up not down. This is a poor outcome for all, global consumers, the New Zealand economy and the atmosphere. . .

Carbon farming is back in the melting pot – Keith Woodford:

There is considerable evidence that the Government plans to change the carbon-farming rules and to do so in the coming months. The big risk is that unintended consequences will dominate over intended consequences.

Forestry Minister Stuart Nash has made it clear that he does not like the idea of permanent exotic forests.  In an opinion piece published in the Herald on 1 February of this year, he stated there are 1.2 million hectares of marginal pastoral lands that should be planted only in native species. He says that there is another 1.2 million hectares that is also unsuitable for pastoral farming but that is suitable for production forestry.

Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor states his opinion somewhat differently. On January 26 he was reported in the Herald as saying that he too disagrees with permanent exotic forests, but that it is up to famers not to sell their farms to people planning to plant forests. Instead, they should sell to those who will farm the land.  Well, my experience is that this is not how markets work. . . 

China’s Covid-zero policy forces some NZ businesses to suspend exports – Maja Burry :

A small number of New Zealand food businesses have had to suspend exports destined for China – after positive Covid-19 cases were detected amongst staff.

Despite the risk of catching the coronavirus from food being considered highly unlikely, as part of China’s Covid-19 zero policy food producers who experience positive cases at their sites are expected to halt shipments to the country.

In a 2021 briefing providing guidance to exporters, the Ministry for Primary Industries said China was applying these measures to all imported cold chain food products, including fruit, vegetables and meat.

MPI market access director Steve Ainsworth said so far during the Omicron outbreak a small number of workers in the supply chain had tested positive for the virus, with infection acquired in the community and outside worksites. . .

Hunters targeting feral goats in order to deal with deer problem in Northland forest :

In order to control the wild deer issue plaguing Northland’s Russell Forest, professional hunters are culling feral goats who have been getting in the way.

A small herd of about 40 sika deer in the forest has been designated as top priority for eradication by Northland Regional Council because they can spread tuberculosis and kauri dieback.

But chairperson of the council’s Biosecurity and Biodiversity Working Party Jack Craw said wild goats were getting in the way of the eradication programme.

“A sika DNA survey was undertaken in May last year across sika habitat to enable costs for an eradication to be assessed and techniques to be reviewed in anticipation of a looming eradication project this year. . . 

Jobs and kiwifruit ripe for the picking as industry calls out for workers – Vanessa Phillips:

The top of the south’s upcoming kiwifruit harvest looks set to be a bumper one, with expectations it will exceed the $71 million generated last year.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc chief executive Colin Bond said this year’s harvest in the Nelson region looked positive, with good volumes and good quality fruit.

Nationally, the kiwifruit harvest kicked off last week with a new red variety, RubyRed, being picked in the Bay of Plenty. However, to Bond’s knowledge, RubyRed was not being grown in the Nelson region, where gold and green kiwifruit would start being harvested from March, he said.

There are about 125 kiwifruit growers in the Nelson region. . . 

Meat-eating extends human life expectancy worldwide -Michele Ann Nardelli :

Has eating meat become unfairly demonized as bad for your health? That’s the question a global, multidisciplinary team of researchers has been studying and the results are in—eating meat still offers important benefits for overall human health and life expectancy.

Study author, University of Adelaide researcher in biomedicine Dr. Wenpeng You, says humans have evolved and thrived over millions of years because of their significant consumption of .

“We wanted to look more closely at research that has thrown a negative spotlight on meat consumption in the human diet,” Dr. You says.

“Looking only at correlations of meat consumption with people’s health or  within a particular group, and or, a particular region or country, can lead to complex and misleading conclusions. . . 


Rural round-up

11/02/2022

Farmer reluctance to testing – John Lewis:

A Federated Farmers president is not surprised to hear some in the industry are asking staff to avoid getting Covid-19 tests, saying many simply feel they cannot afford to be out of action.

It comes as the Government works on a policy to keep farmers working, with Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor not ruling out the possibility of vaccinated, asymptomatic staff who tested positive continuing working within their bubbles.

Otago and Southland farmers, spoken to on the agreement they would not be named, admitted they knew farmers who had asked staff to avoid being tested if they were symptomatic for Covid-19.

A Southland sheep and beef farmer said he vowed to never get tested for Covid-19 because of the impact testing positive would have on his farm. . . 

Big apple crop comes with big challenges for industry :

New Zealand’s apple and pear crop for 2022 is predicted to reach 601,000 tonnes, closely in line with long term forecasting.

Assuming fruit is able to be picked and packed, export volume could be slightly higher than 2020 levels, which dropped following the disastrous Boxing Day hail event in the Nelson region. However, the lingering question on growers’ minds across the country is how much of the 2022 crop will get picked as the Omicron storm clouds gather. In any normal year, the crop estimate is based on the potential volume and assumes a normal growing season without adverse weather events or menacing labour and supply chain issues. Unfortunately, 2022 will not be a normal year.

With a potential 23.2 million 18kg boxes destined for customers in more than 80 countries, a very good growing season so far has provided increased sized fruit with high sunshine and warmth giving fruit size, colour, and crispness. Quality is particularly important as the industry continues to move to apple and pear varieties that it has developed within its own Prevar research programme. The variety mix continues to diversify as traditionally grown varieties such as Braeburn and Royal Gala decline in volume and New Zealand owned Dazzle, Envy, Piqa-Boo, and Rockit increase.

New Zealand Apples and Pears (NZAPI) chief executive Terry Meikle says however, the increased crop volume and quality must be tempered by the fact that Omicron has now firmly established itself in New Zealand. . . 

Sunflowers hitting peak bloom – Rebecca Ryan:

Fields of sunflowers are brightening up rural North Otago once again.

Topflite’s sunflowers, grown by Rosedale Farming Co Ltd, have become an annual attraction in the Waitaki district, and they are about to hit their full height and golden glory.

Topflite general manager Greg Webster said the crops had developed slightly later than previous years, but were really ‘‘cranking’’ now.

‘‘They’ve been definitely enjoying the sunshine that we’ve had lately — and they’re looking good,’’ Mr Webster said. . .

Some New Zealand olive oils may not be as local as you think :

A recent Consumer NZ investigation of 20 extra-virgin olive oils revealed that some oils labelled as New Zealand also contain imported oils.

“Most oils state the origin of the olives or oil, but not all are upfront, and you could be forgiven for thinking some New Zealand olive oils are made from 100 percent New Zealand olives,”, said Consumer NZ research writer Belinda Castles.

Despite Matapiro New Zealand 100% Extra-Virgin Olive Oil and Village Press First Press Extra-Virgin Olive Oil stating New Zealand on the front label, there’s no mention where the olives or oil comes from.

Matapiro said its oil was blended with Australian olive oil to meet demand. The company is hoping to return to wholly New Zealand grown olives and oil soon. . . 

NZ Young Farmers welcome new FMG Young Farmer of the year contest series sponsor :

The challenge is heating up for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Contest Series, with a new sponsor giving competitors the chance to showcase their smarts when it comes to environmental protection and regulation.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has officially joined the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Contest Series family.

NZ Young Farmers CEO Lynda Coppersmith says all competitors and NZ Young Farmers’ members have a genuine passion for the environment and preserving it for future generations which makes EPA a great addition to the Contest Series.

“Understanding and creating solutions to problems our environment is currently facing it is such an important part of farming and protecting the land we live on and love. It will be hugely beneficial for contestants to be challenged on this first-hand and to think more about the best ways to enhance and preserve our way of life into the future.” . . 

‘Horrendous’ Wheatbelt bushfires still pose a threat, says fire chief – John Dobson, Peter Barr, Paul Cook,:

Fires that tore through Western Australia’s agricultural heartland overnight scorching farmland and destroying homes still pose a threat.

Twin fires hit the Wheatbelt, about 250km east of Perth, yesterday afternoon as catastrophic fire conditions throughout the region brought gusty winds and temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius. 

The bushfires came after two other major fires destroyed homes in southern WA on Saturday in Denmark and Bridgetown in a horrific weekend for firefighters.

On Sunday afternoon, four emergency bushfires were burning at once across the south of the state. . . 


Rural round-up

13/01/2022

Fruitful days lie ahead, say North Otago growers – Ashley Smyth:

Fruitgrowers in North Otago are looking forward to a bumper crop this season.

Matsinger’s Berry Farm owner Leanne Matsinger said the season had been going very well, and the strawberries were “massive and beautiful”.

The Peebles business, about 15km inland from Oamaru towards the Waitaki Valley, had about 50,000 plants in the ground, and another 20,000 growing hydroponically. There was also 1ha of raspberries.

Far from being a burden, the wet weather had meant the fruit was big and juicy, Mrs Matsinger said. . .

Primary industry leaders call for Gen Z to secure the future of the sector :

New Zealand’s food and fibre sector is working hard to secure the future of the primary industries by trying to attract more young people to choose a career in the sector.

The key to attracting Generation Z, loosely defined as those born between 1995 and 2010, to the sector is raising awareness of opportunities and the range of roles available in the industry, experts say.

Kellogg Rural Leadership scholar Madison Pannett, who now works for the Ministry of Primary Industries as a senior adviser in the Animal Welfare Liaison team, released a report on this subject called Generation Z and the environment – how can we use their passion to attract them into food and fibre sector careers?

She says: “I have found my journey into the sector so personally rewarding, so I was keen to explore how to inspire young people to join. . . 

AACo partners with The Zanda McDonald Award to support future leaders in agriculture:

The new year is off to a great start for The Zanda McDonald Award, with the announcement that Australian Agricultural Company (AACo) have come on board as a partner for the trans-Tasman agricultural badge of honour.

AACo, Australia’s largest integrated cattle and beef producer, owns and operates stations, feedlots and farms comprising around 6.4 million hectares of land in Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Managing Director and CEO Hugh Killen says the company can play a role in helping develop the next generation of industry leaders.

“AACo has been helping grow agriculture in Australia for almost 200 years and our association with the Zanda McDonald Award continues this legacy,” Mr Killen said. . . 

Comvita’s 50-year history: hippies, health and harmony :

Almost 50 years ago, 20-something hippie surfer Alan Bougen teamed up with 60-something beekeeper Claude Stratford to set up a health food company, based mostly around bee products. They called it Comvita. In the fourth in a series, Newsroom talks to Bougen about a small business which turned into our largest mānuka honey producer  

It all started with a mutual goal to improve people’s health, while leaving the environment better than they found it – and in that the Comvita founders were ahead of their time as sustainable thinkers. Stratford and Bougen were also leaders in the drive to validate mānuka honey’s unique health-giving properties and then share its magic with the world.

Claude Stratford died in 2013 at the age of 102; his longevity a testament to the founders’ shared Hippocratic belief that food is medicine and medicine is food. Now aged 71, and about to walk the Heaphy Track, Alan Bougen has new insights on old lessons learned over half a century in the business.

Hippie roots

“The natural food and products industry in 1970-1971 was where I dropped into the lifestyle of health and wellness, the ‘health food revolution’ as it was known,” Bougen says. He’s at home in Mt Maunganui, reminiscing about his early days in San Diego in true bohemian style. . . 

Five months on the 2021 Corteva Young Viticulturist Of The Year national final set to go ahead:

It may be five months later than planned, but it’s on! Due to the sudden and extended Delta lockdown the 2021 Corteva Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition, just one week away from taking place in August, is set to finally go ahead on Thursday 27th January 2022.

It will take place at Indevin’s Bankhouse Vineyard in Marlborough and the national winner will be announced at the Awards Dinner the same night.

“We’re excited and relieved that we can finally go ahead with the competition” says Nicky Grandorge, the National Co-Ordinator “The flexibility of everyone involved has been incredible and shows the strength, resilience and passion of the Young Vit community.”

The national finalists have been in limbo for quite some time, although they were able to hand in their research reports and give their presentations online which relieved them of some pressure. The topic for this year’s project was “Assess various pruning options during a labour shortage”, thus addressing one of the real challenges currently facing the wine industry. . . 

Pending irrigation scheme water access set to add balue to livestock grazing blocks on the market for sale:

Two blocks of livestock grazing pastureland – with the potential to have access to a substantial sustainable water supply enabling conversion of the property into highly productive horticultural land – have been placed on the market for sale.

The 33.41-hectare property in two titles at Te Kopuru on the Poutu Peninsula is just south of Dargaville in Northland.

The pair of freehold lots 2 and 18 at Redhill Cemetery Road in Te Kopuru are now being marketed for sale by tender through Bayleys Whangarei, with the tender process closing on February 3. Salespeople Vinni Bhula and Todd Skudder said buyers had the opportunity tender for either of the blocks individually, or as a combined offering.

Lot 2 comprises 16.05-hectares, while adjoining lot 18 consists of 17.36-hectares. Both lots are classified as featuring flat to gently rolling topographic contours. . . 


Rural round-up

06/12/2021

Wool price making a comeback as overseas demand for product rises :

Higher demand for sportswear, rugs and other wool products has resulted in a resurgence in wool prices.

Prices across all wool types lifted in the year to October, Beef and Lamb’s latest wool export data shows.

Merino was up 28.4 percent to just over $18,000 a tonne and strong wool, which has been struggling with depressed prices, rose 12.1 percent.

PGG Wrightson general manager of wool Grant Edwards said prices are lifting due to higher demand. . . 

Commercial beekeeper numbers drop amid low prices – Maja Burry:

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ latest apiculture monitoring report showed the number of beekeepers with 500 or more hives fell by 9.9 percent to 316 oin the 2020/21 season.

This follows a 7.6 percent drop the previous season.

The total number of registered hives in New Zealand also fell over the last two years to 806,000.

Prior to this the commercial honey industry had been experiencing growth, with a jump in the popularity and price of manuka honey driving a boom in production. . .

NZ agriculture is starting to see value in celebrating its provenance – Tina Morrison:

Much of New Zealand’s agricultural produce is sold as unbranded commodities on global markets. But that’s starting to change as companies discover there is value in heralding their Kiwi provenance.

“New Zealand has got a really strong story and that’s something that we haven’t really told in the past,” says Lincoln University agribusiness and food marketing programme director Dr Nic Lees. “We are making progress. I think we have started on that journey.”

Fonterra, the country’s largest dairy company, has been vocal about its shift in focus under new chief executive Miles Hurrell. Where his predecessor Theo Spierings envisaged the co-operative becoming another big global conglomerate like Danone or Nestle, Hurrell has sold off overseas assets and pulled back to New Zealand to focus on getting more value from the “white gold” produced by local farmers.

Hurrell says Fonterra is only now amplifying the New Zealand provenance message it always knew it had as demand has increased across its global markets to know more about the origin and purity of food. . . 

MLA becomes major supporter of award benefitting Australasian agriculture:

In an exciting development for future leaders in agriculture, Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) have announced their partnership with Australasian agricultural badge of honour, the Zanda McDonald Award.

The Award, which recognises talented young individuals from Australia and New Zealand who want to make a difference in agriculture, helps take people’s careers to the next level for the betterment of the industry on both sides of the Tasman.

This is delivered through an impressive personal development plan for the finalists on both sides of the Tasman, and a ‘money can’t buy’ prize package for the winners. This prize includes media training, further education, and a tailored mentoring program across both countries, where they spend time up close and personal with some of the biggest leaders and influencers in the sector. . . 

Fellows of New Zealand Winegrowers announced for 2021:

The New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) Fellows award recognises individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the New Zealand wine industry.

From making strides in wine governance to adding sparkle to the wine industry, the 2021 NZW Fellows are a group of highly respected and influential individuals who have helped to shape the success of New Zealand wine today.

We are pleased to announce the NZW Fellows for 2021: Steve Smith MW for service to NZW, Wine Institute of New Zealand, and other initiatives, John Clarke for service to NZW and New Zealand Grape Grower’s Council (NZGGC), Andy Frost for service to national research, Rudi Bauer for service to New Zealand Pinot Noir, and Daniel and Adele Le Brun for service to New Zealand bottle fermented sparkling wine. . . 

Eating less meat no climate solution – Shan Goodwin:

AUSTRALIAN-SPECIFIC research is showing the climate benefits of reducing red meat consumption below amounts recommended in dietary guidelines is small and could create negative environmental trade-offs such as higher water scarcity.

The industry’s big service provider Meat & Livestock Australia has released a fascinating report on the topic, which draws extensively from research conducted by CSIRO and other institutions.

Against a backdrop of increasing calls for affluent societies to significantly cut red meat consumption in the name of the environment, the work shows getting Australians to eat less beef is not an effective climate solution.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend eating 65 grams of lean, cooked, unprocessed red meat a day.

The MLA report, called The Environmental Impact of Red Meat in a Healthy Diet, points out that Australian lamb production is in fact climate neutral already. Further, the water and cropland scarcity footprints of Australian beef and lamb are low. . . 


Rural round-up

03/12/2021

Fonterra expected to pay highest milk price since it was formed 20 years ago – Tina Morrison:

Economists have been hiking their expectations for Fonterra’s milk payment to farmers for this season, with most now expecting the co-operative to pay the highest level since it was founded 20 years ago.

In late October, Fonterra lifted and narrowed its forecast for the 2021/22 season to between $7.90 and $8.90 per kilogram of milk solids. The midpoint of the range, which farmers are paid off, increased to $8.40 per kgMS, matching the previous record paid in the 2013/14 season.

Since then, tight milk supply and continued demand have underpinned prices on the Global Dairy Trade auction platform, prompting economists to raise their forecasts even higher, with BNZ and Westpac both picking an $8.90/kgMS milk price, ANZ at $8.80/kgMS and ASB at $8.75/kgMS. . . 

Taxpayers funding anti-dairying messages:

“Some days it’s difficult to comprehend what I see in the news,” says National Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger.

“Unbelievably, and thanks to Louis Houlbrooke of The Taxpayers Union and Scoop Independent News, I learnt on Monday taxpayers have funded the anti-dairy documentary ‘Milked’ to the tune of $48,000 — a ‘finishing grant’ given by the New Zealand Film Commission.

“Houlbrooke said in the story the 40,000 Kiwis employed in the dairy sector wouldn’t be happy to know they’ve funded a film that attacks their livelihoods.

“I can tell you right now, as a farmer and MP for a huge rural electorate, we are not! It is a real slap in the face to a sector which brings in 80% of the country’s export revenue. . .

“More milk from fewer cows’ trend continues in a record year for dairy industry :

Kiwi dairy farmers hit a new high for milk production last season with fewer cows, showing that a focus on breeding higher performing cows is paying off.  

The annual New Zealand Dairy Statistics report, released today by DairyNZ and Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), shows that total milk volume, total milksolids and per cow production were the highest on record in the 2020-21 season.

New Zealand has 4.9 million milking cows – down from 4.92 million the previous season, and they produced 1.95 billion kilograms of milksolids.

DairyNZ Chief Executive Dr Tim Mackle says it is great to see a continuation of the “more milk from fewer cows” trend because it shows a continuing focus on milking better cows and farming even more sustainably. . .

Honey production and yields fall while export volumes remain buoyant for the 2021-21 year:

New Zealand’s national honey production in the 2020/2021 season was down 24% on the previous season and the average honey yield per hive fell 18%, according to the 2021 Apiculture Monitoring Report released by the Ministry of Primary Industries this week.

Beekeeping for the season ended June 2021 proved to be more challenging than recent seasons, with the national honey production down 24% on the 2019/2020 year to 20,500 tonnes, while the average honey yield per hive fell 18% to 25kgs.

These findings will not be surprising to beekeepers, says Apiculture NZ CEO Karin Kos. “Last summer presented more challenging weather conditions than the previous season when the harvest was aided by excellent weather across the country. . . 

NZ Truffle Company plans to be biggest exporter in the Southern Hemisphere  :

Matthew and Catherine Dwan’s aim to use a 139 hectare North Canterbury Farm in a more profitable and planet-friendly way, looks set to create the largest exporter of truffles south of the equator.

In fact, when the NZ Truffle Company’s plantation of 37,500 trees reaches full maturity in 2036, production is expected to be the largest yield in the southern hemisphere.

“At capacity, we’ll be producing around 17,250 kg of Black, White and Burgundy truffles,” says Matthew Dwan, who, along with his partner Catherine set up the NZ Truffle Company in 2017.

The crop, worth between $2500 and $3500 per kilogram, will be exported to Europe, the Middle East and Asia, where there’s a huge demand in the luxury food market for the counter seasonal supply of what’s known as “plant-based caviar”. . . 

Bronte Gorringe pursues her agriculture leadership goals

Bronte Gorringe has always aspired to be a leader in the agricultural industry and sponsorship to attend a renowned development program will bring her closer to her goal.

Ms Gorringe is being sponsored by the DemoDAIRY Foundation to attend the Marcus Oldham Rural Leadership Program in May next year.

Participants are encouraged to have industry support via sponsorship and DemoDAIRY Foundation would consider supporting additional applicants.

Ms Gorringe had expected to complete the five-day intensive workshop in 2021, but it was delayed due to COVID. . . 


Rural round-up

21/09/2021

Down on the Farm – Paul Gorman:

Rural life has always had its challenges, but environmental politics and the complexities of modern farming have brought new pressures. For some, the load becomes too much to carry.

When he was a kid, Sam Spencer-Bower used to help out his grandfather Marmaduke in his massive vegetable garden, just across from the farm cottage where he lived with his parents. He didn’t realise at the time that his grandad was something of a legend in Canterbury farming. His family had worked on this land ever since great-great-grandfather Marmaduke Dixon came from Claxby in Lincolnshire and in 1852 established a large farm in North Canterbury, near the gravelly north bank of the Waimakariri River.

In fact, Marmaduke Dixon was one of the first in New Zealand to irrigate his land, initiating flood irrigation from the Waimakariri before 1900. Sam’s grandfather, Marmaduke Spencer-Bower, farmed the land until he was about 95 and wrote a book about the farm and Marmaduke Dixon’s legacy. In other words, Sam Spencer-Bower — middle name Marmaduke — had a lot to live up to.

By the time his grandfather died at the age of 98, Spencer-Bower was already well on the road to taking over the fifth-generation family farm. He was studying for a degree in farm management at Lincoln University. That’s where he met his wife, Jo, who was herself from a sixth-generation farming family (her brother is former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw). At the time, Jo recalls, she liked the fact that Sam had a “sensitive side”, that he was “not a big showman”. . .

Flood fund criteria way off the mark :

Nearly four months on from the floods that devastated much of rural Canterbury, the Government has fallen short of the promises it made to local farmers, says National MP Nicola Grigg.

“Jacinda Ardern and Damien O’Connor flew into Ashburton with cameras rolling to announce a $4 million Canterbury Flood Recovery Fund – indicating that it was just a start, that they were still working to establish the full scale and cost of the damage – and that there would be more where that came from,” says Grigg who is MP for Selwyn.

She says the fund offers grants of up to 50% of eligible costs with a total limit of $250,000 and will contribute to uninsurable costs to enable productive land to return to a productive state as quickly as possible.

“Essentially, it can only be used for the clearing up of flood debris such as boulders, gravel, trees, and silt on productive land. Insurable costs, such as replacing fences, have not been targeted by the fund.” . .

Farmers weigh weather impact across islands – Neal Wallace & Colin Willscroft:

A wet spring is proving a major challenge for southern South Island farmers, causing sleepy sickness, forcing dairy farmers to milk once-a-day, feed out supplements or stand cows off paddocks.

While annual rainfall is about average, the pattern in which has fallen, with up to 85mm already falling this month, is causing sodden ground conditions, especially on the Southland coast

Otago Federated Farmers meat and wool section chair and Clinton farmer Logan Wallace says a dry autumn meant he went into winter with low pasture cover, which required his hoggets to be sent to grazing. He says much of South Otago is similarly short of feed.

He applied urea, which provided a brief respite before a recent cold snap reduced its effectiveness, and recorded more than 75mm of rain in the week to the middle of September, equivalent to that month’s average rainfall. . . 

Paddocks ablaze with colour as sales plummet for daffodils – Country Life:

Sweep into Clandon Daffodil’s driveway on the outskirts of Hamilton you’ll be treated to an unusually vibrant spectacle.

This year, because of Covid-19 restrictions tens of thousands of unpicked daffodils are dancing in the paddock, unable to be sent to Auckland’s flower market.

Clandon is one of New Zealand’s biggest daffodil growers and owner Ian Riddell says Auckland usually takes three quarters of its daffodils.

“We’re getting plenty of comments from people who come in and are saying ‘wow it’s amazing’…It certainly is a sight. It probably won’t happen again. . . 

Call for SI specific residency visa – Neal Wallace:

An immigration adviser is calling for a rethink on how long-term migrant workers are treated, saying up to 6000 in the South Island face an uncertain future.

Ashburton-based Maria Jimenez says these migrants are employed in healthcare, hospitals, construction and agriculture and have an expectation they could apply for residency after meeting work criteria.

Because of covid’s impact on the immigration office, the Government suspended Expressions of Interest (EOI) selections for the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) last year, closing a pathway to residency for many migrants.

The Government is also resetting immigration policy in a move to reduce the reliance on imported workers. . . 

Public back gene-editing tech as climate worries rise :

The public want farmers to have access to new precision breeding techniques such as gene-editing to respond better to climate change, a new survey says.

It indicates rising concern about the environment following a summer of droughts and heat waves, including the hottest temperatures recorded in Europe since records began.

The YouGov survey of over 2,000 adults, carried out on behalf of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council, shows public enthusiasm for new approaches to farming in light of these extremes.

The majority of those surveyed (81%) agreed that farmers should be able to benefit from innovations that could help them play their role in meeting the UK goal of reaching net-zero by 2050. . . 


Rural round-up

09/09/2021

We need to step up water resilience resourcing and leadership  :

News that development work on the Wakamoekau Community Water Storage Scheme has been halted should be deeply troubling to every resident of the Wairarapa, the region’s Federated Farmers President David Hayes says.

“Water storage is critical to the future of our towns and rural hinterland, to employment, production and the health of our rivers and wider environment.”
The Wakamoekau scheme was seen as a foundation block of the Wairarapa Water Resilience Strategy.

“It’s highly concerning we have stumbled at the first step,” David said.
“I grew up in South Australia – the driest state on the driest continent. I’ve seen how severe water shortages undercut so many aspects of life.

“The Wairarapa must not underestimate the shock that climate change-accelerated lack of water will mean to our Wairarapa communities and to the environment. It is time to act! . . 

Grape shortage to hit winegrowers in pocket – Maja Burry:

The wine industry is bracing for two consecutive years of falling export revenue due to tight grape supplies.

Latest industry figures show in the year to June export value was down 3 percent to $1.87 billion, the first fall in export value in 26 years.

New Zealand winegrowers chief executive Phillip Gregan said the sector had experienced strong growth over a number of years, but it was now being constrained by a lack of supply.

“Despite the fact that we had a record harvest in 2020, our winery simply did not have the volume of wine available to them to support market growth for the whole for the whole year. And so we saw the first decline in wine exports.” . . 

Long hours at a busy time of year – Toni Williams:

Husband and wife Vincent and Rebecca Koopmans, like their farming peers, have been putting in some long hours during Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown.

Mr Koopmans is a dairy farmer, near Methven, and Mrs Koopmans a primary school teacher reaching out to pupils about ongoing learning under Covid restrictions.

‘‘Although it is business as usual during lockdown and we are very proud to be an essential service, it’s not life as normal and lockdown does still add pressure on farmers,’’ Mr Koopmans said.

‘‘We are lucky to be in a position to continue working, and providing work for our team as well, but like everyone else we are hoping this [Covid] outbreak is contained soon.’’ . . 

Comvita partners with celebrity brand promoter Caravan:

Mānuka honey exporter Comvita is teaming up with one of America’s most powerful sports and entertainment agencies to market a new line of products.

Comvita has announced a new partnership with the US brand development company Caravan, which is a joint venture with talent agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA), which represents celebrities and sports stars such as Nicole Kidman, Lady Gaga and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Caravan helps high profile individuals build companies around their personal brands. . . 

Lockdown auction achieves record sale price :

The sale of a Tatua dairy supply farm has just set a new price-per-hectare record in the Waikato.

The rural property has also set an agency record as the most expensive property sold by Bayleys via live virtual auction since lockdown restrictions were put into place more than two weeks ago.

Alert level four lockdown restrictions didn’t allow Bayleys country real estate agent Mike Fraser-Jones much time to come to grips with the technological nuances of live virtual auctions. . . 

 

Property investors buzzing as honey warehouse up for sale:

The land and building housing the regional operations for one of New Zealand’s premier honey harvesting and retail companies has been placed on the market for sale.

The substantial site in the Waikato township of Te Awamutu features a 1,885-square metre building sitting on 5,226 square metres of freehold land zoned commercial 8A. The modern warehousing and administrative premises at 249 Bruce Berquist Drive is located in the heart of Te Awamutu’s industrial precinct – a wedge of properties between Bond Road and Te Rahu Road.

Leading New Zealand native honey harvesting and retail brand Manuka Honey occupies the rear 1,125-square metre portion of the building premises. The remaining 600 square metres of high-stud warehousing and 160 square metres of office space at the front of the property are currently vacant. . . 


Rural round-up

01/09/2021

One hundred hours work a week to keep farm wheels turning through lockdown – Yashas Srinivasa:

Timaru farmer George Steven is working nearly 100 hours a week to keep his dairy and deer operations running through lockdown.

In the busiest time of the year for the farming community, Steven has experienced a 30 per cent drop in labour since New Zealand closed its borders – a “lot less” than what he would usually get at this time of the year.

Steven and his partner plus a full-time worker and a part-time worker are taking care of two farms in Otipua and Fairview, with the occasional help from businesses and family.

To a certain extent, automation systems have helped him deal with the labour shortage but Steven still puts in long hours on the deer and dairy farms he has owned since 1990 and 2014 respectively. . . 

Survivor hails safety feature – Shawn McAvinue:

As WorkSafe is warning farmers about fatalities on-farm spiking in spring, cattle farmer Russell Clearwater talks to Shawn McAvinue about how crush protection on his quad bike saved his life.

Crush protection on quad bikes saves lives and is worth the investment, a Western Southland cattle farmers says.

Tower Peak Station owner Russell Clearwater was riding a quad bike moving cattle on his 1300ha farm near Manapouri in spring two years ago.

When a cow on heat started to become agitated, he reversed the quad to give the animal some room and to get in a safer position. . . 

Lessons for us all in farmers’ adaptability – Laura Smith:

The whole country has had more than 10 days in lockdown but the experience is akin to what many farmers go through at this time of year. Otago Daily Times reporter Laura Smith chatted to Southland farmer David Rose about his thoughts on farming during Alert Level 4.

Conversing in a mask and sitting an acceptable 2m away does not put much of a dent in David Rose’s positivity.

The former president of Southland Federated Farmers and life member of the organisation reckons he has a glass-half-full kind of outlook on life.

He might have been wearing a mask, but it was not hard to tell when he was smiling. . . 

MP embraces new role :

‘Working from the grassroots up rather than the top down is how I’ll be tackling my new responsibility as National’s spokesperson for Agriculture,” says Barbara Kuriger.

Mrs Kuriger’s change in portfolio sees her Rural Communities role go to Southland MP Joseph Mooney, under a minor reshuffle released by Party Leader Judith Collins on Saturday. She retains Energy and Natural Resources, as well as Food Safety.

The Taranaki-King Country MP, who has been speaking with rural leaders and advocacy groups since the decision was announced, says she and her team are “fizzing and ready to go”.

And she’s not mincing her words. . . 

Allied Farmers doubles full-year net profit with boost from livestock business and pandemic recovery :

Allied Farmers’ full year net profit has more than doubled boosted by the improved performance of its livestock business and a recovery from the pandemic.

The result also included the first half year contribution from Allied’s recent investment in rural property manager New Zealand Rural Land Management.

“We continued to invest in our digital technologies, recognising that while sale yards play a critical role in the rural value chain, there is ongoing need for innovation to support the changing needs of farmers, and ongoing operational requirements and compliance costs,” the company said. . . 

Labour crisis set to worsen in run-up to Christmas, sector warns :

The current supply chain disruption and labour crisis is set to worsen as the peak trading period in the run-up to Christmas nears, Scottish food and farming organisations have warned.

In a new letter sent to the UK and Scottish governments, industry groups have called for more action on tackling the labour crisis ahead of the crucial Christmas season.

The letter was organised by Food & Drink Federation (FDF) Scotland and co-signed by NFU Scotland, Scotland Food and Drink, Scottish Bakers, Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers, Scottish Seafood Alliance and Scottish Wholesale Association.

The letter, which was sent to the UK and Scottish governments on 26 August, said: “Both Brexit and the pandemic have accelerated existing pressures on labour availability. . . 


Rural round-up

30/07/2021

NZ dairy industry’s biggest challenge is meeting methane gas emission targets – Point of Order:

New Zealand dairy farmers are some of the most efficient producers of dairy milk in the world, and while the past year has been tough for many industries, the overall picture for dairy has been overwhelmingly positive.  Returns to farmers have been at record levels,. along with the economic contribution to NZ.

Dairy  export receipts are  nudging $20bn  a  year, up  from $4.58m  in 2000.

But  now  the  industry  is  facing  its biggest  challenge.

Dairy  cattle are  responsible  for  22% of  NZ’s emissions. Can  NZ  meets  its methane  emission  targets  without  slashing  the   size of the  national  dairy  herd? . . 

Cow methane vaccine could be emissions game-changer :

Mitigating New Zealand’s agricultural emissions is an ongoing process, but the development of a methane vaccine for cows and other livestock could be a game changer.

A homegrown group is on the cusp of a revolutionary result with it.

The vaccine works by triggering the cow’s immune system to create antibodies that stop methane-producing microbes from working, reducing a cow’s gas production and its contributions of greenhouse gases.

Jeremy Hill, chairman of The Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium, told Seven Sharp the vaccine works the same as most vaccines. . .

Bremworth refuses to back down from its support of New Zealand wool:

A global synthetic flooring manufacturer is threatening legal action against iconic New Zealand wool company, Bremworth, as consumers increasingly opt for wool carpets amidst growing awareness of the link between synthetic carpets and plastic.

As sales of its wool carpets escalate, Bremworth has been targeted with a letter from lawyers acting for Godfrey Hirst, owned by US-based Mohawk Industries which also owns Feltex. Amongst other things, Godfrey Hirst is demanding Bremworth withdraw a number of key claims in its marketing campaign that promotes New Zealand wool, including as a natural, more sustainable alternative to synthetic carpet fibres made from plastic.

The new CEO of Bremworth, Greg Smith, said: “We see this legal threat as a distraction and an attempt to stifle legitimate competition and consumer choice. We won’t shy away from promoting the virtues of wool and countering misconceptions in the market to enable customers to make well informed flooring choices – and we firmly stand by our decision to focus on wool and natural fibres.” . .

Project explores wool innovation :

A New Zealand research project has unveiled a suite of innovative wool products with global export potential.

The Wool Research Organisation of NZ (WRONZ) showcased the products at an event to celebrate the achievements from its New Uses for Strong Wool programme, supported by research, industry and funding partners.

The unique wool particles, powders and pigments developed have global export potential for applications as diverse as cosmetics, printing, luxury goods and personal care.

A commercial development company, Wool Source, has been formed to develop the new products and assess market demand for the strong wool innovation. . .

Primary products push exports to a new high :

New Zealand exports reached a new high in June 2021, off the back of record export values for logs and beef, Stats NZ said today.

In June 2021, the value of all goods exports rose $871 million (17 percent) from June 2020 to $6.0 billion. The previous high for exports was in May 2021 ($5.9 billion).

Exports of logs and wood reached a new high, up $105 million (23 percent) from June 2020 to $561 million in June 2021. This increase was driven by logs. Logs’ export value rose $87 million to reach record levels, driven by an increase in unit values (up 26 percent). . . 

A good year for wine lovers – latest and greatest on show at the New World Wine Awards:

Wine drinkers have lots to look forward to as wine show season gets underway and wines from some of New Zealand’s latest and greatest vintages are put to the taste test.

The New World Wine Awards judging starts today in Marlborough, with an independent panel of experts spending three full days pouring over more than 1,100 wine entries. After swirling, sniffing, sipping and spitting, their scores will whittle the field down to the best of the best: the Top 50 wines that will be available for $25 or less in New World supermarkets nationwide.

The majority of the entries will be wines that were harvested and made in 2019, 2020 and 2021 – each a year hailed for its unique combination of ideal growing conditions and grape quality. . .


Rural round-up

28/05/2021

Trade with China – May 2021 – Elbow Deep:

As a dairy farmer, whenever I am asked what I think is the greatest risk to farming in the foreseeable future I invariably and only half-jokingly reply that it is politicians. I wasn’t laughing recently, however, when Brook van Velden, the ACT party’s foreign affairs spokesperson, submitted a motion to Parliament asking MPs to declare China’s treatment of the Uyghur people a genocide. She had the full backing of her leader, David Seymour, who boldly exclaimed “We shouldn’t care about trade and declare a genocide in China”.

This somewhat idealistic proposition came hard on the heels of the Labour Government being criticized by their Five Eyes partners for being too cosy with China. Five Eyes, an intelligence gathering and sharing arrangement between the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, has in recent times tried to expand its remit into other areas of policy. These policy statements are invariably some kind of criticism of China, but New Zealand has annoyed its Five Eyes partners by charting their own course and not signing on to these statements.  . . .

Budget pumps $1.3bn into railways but almost forgets farmers while Fonterra delivers the economy-boosting goods – Point of Order:

Farmers    who  believed   Labour  when it  said  it wanted  to  double  agricultural  exports may have experienced  a  sense  of  disillusion as  they  absorbed the  messages  of  Budget 2021.  While  the  government  is  allocating $1.3bn to modernise rail infrastructure and  build locos  and  wagons in Dunedin,  it  could find  only  $62m  for  agriculture.

Someone  has  calculated  that  the country’s 40,000 farm businesses, if they shared the $62m, would each receive $1550 or $29 a week (less than the ongoing minimum benefit increase).

This  comparatively meagre  sum   is  to be  applied as  follows: . . 

Hawke’s Bay farmers win deer environmental award :

The winners of the 2021 Elworthy Award, an environmental accolade for deer farmers, are Grant and Sally Charteris of Forest Road Farm in the Central Hawke’s Bay.

The award was presented at the Deer Industry Conference in Invercargill earlier this month.

Lead judge, Janet Gregory, says the eight entrants in the deer environmental awards had many things in common: active farm environment and business plans, and involvement in the deer industry’s productivity and environmental activities.

“All are leaders in the industry, show great passion and stewardship of the land, and are supporting their local communities. Many of them have calculated their greenhouse gas emissions or are planning to do so,” Gregory says. . . 

How good are New Zealand Farmers?:

“The latest Fonterra announcement of a heightened 2021/2022 farm gate milk price is a big thumbs up for rural New Zealand performance,” says ACT’s Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron.

“Cheers to our dairy farmers for all their hard work. What this means to New Zealand economic recovery in these crazy COVID times, is greater economic certainty.

“After last week’s la la budget which spent billions of dollars, this boost is exactly what the country needs.

“The new pay-out will mean hundreds of millions of additional dollars that flood into the national economy. A fiscal kick up the backside of a struggling economy. It’s great news to help spirit on our recovery and pay for our ballooning debt. . . 

Confidence constrained by climate:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 220 more farm sales (+89.4%) for the three months ended April 2021 than for the three months ended April 2020. Overall, there were 466 farm sales in the three months ended April 2021, compared to 432 farm sales for the three months ended March 2021 (+7.9%), and 246 farm sales for the three months ended April 2020.

1,677 farms were sold in the year to April 2021, 45.1% more than were sold in the year to April 2020, with 120.0% more Dairy farms, 84.1% more Dairy Support, 20.8% more Grazing farms, 54.4% more Finishing farms and 11.8% less Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to April 2021 was $29,746 compared to $22,435 recorded for three months ended April 2020 (+32.6%). The median price per hectare increased 14.8% compared to March 2021. . . 

FAO sets the record straight–86% of livestock feed is inedible by humans :

As the media frenzy caused by a ‘planetary health diet’ proposed in a new report from an EAT-Lancet commission this month continues, it is perhaps timely to recall that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has set the record straight regarding not just the level of greenhouse gases that livestock emit (see yesterday’s posting on this blog) but also incorrect information about how much food (crops eatable by humans) is consumed by livestock. It’s not a lot.

The EAT-Lancet report summarizes scientific evidence for a global food system transition towards healthy diets from sustainable agriculture. The report concludes that a global shift towards a diet made up of high quantities of fruits, vegetables and plant-based protein and low quantities of animal protein could catalyze the achievement of both the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement to combat climate change.

Anne Mottet, an FAO livestock development officer specializing in natural resource use efficiency and climate change, usefully informs us of incorrect, if widespread, information and understanding about the so-called ‘food-feed competition’. . . 


Rural round-up

24/05/2021

Budget ‘missed opportunity’ for farmers :

Farming groups say while there are a few positives in Budget 2021 for the primary sector, overall it is disappointing.

The Government has allocated more than $50 million towards lowering agricultural emissions and developing a national farm planning system.

Funding included $37m towards national integrated farm planning system for farmers and growers, $24m towards agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation research and development; and $900,000 to collect vital statistics on agricultural production, such as greenhouse gas emissions. . . 

Support for drought affected farmers – Ashley Smyth;

Steps are being put in place to help North Otago farmers struggling with the challenges of drought, heading into winter.

Otago Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Lindsay Purvis said winter crops had failed in places, but some parts of the district were worse than others.

A Zoom meeting was being held this week involving farmers “dotted strategically throughout Otago” to gather information for a drought monitor group, he said.

“The idea of having all these farmers together is to get a little report from them, as to what’s happening in their area.” . . .

$25,000 paid for Teviot Valley bull – Shawn McAvinue:

A Teviot Valley bull fetched the top price at a national seed stock sale last week.

Limehills Stardom brought $25,000 for vendors Limehills Herefords owners Gray and Robyn Pannett, of Millers Flat.

Mr Pannett said the sale price of the 20-month Hereford bull was because of his strong pedigree and high intramuscular fat.

Limehills Stardom was bought by North Island businesses Charwell Herefords and BeefGen. . . 

Deerstalkers’ hut given green light – Ruby Heyward;

The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association North Otago branch is building for the future.

At the beginning of the year, the North Otago branch submitted an application to the Department of Conservation (Doc) to build a public hut on the Waianakarua Scenic Reserve, south of Oamaru.

After a few months of finger crossing, the members have got the go ahead.

For hut project co-ordinator Barry Wilson, it was a huge relief. . . 

Forestry worker becomes small business owner in Southland – Uma Ahmend:

Former forestry worker Cameron Moir has taken on the Fordes Petfood business near South Hillend.

Moir, broke two vertebras and his pelvis in a car crash in February 2020, and during recuperation he decided it was time for a change.​

Even though Moir does not officially start working at the processing plant until July 5, he has been regularly going to the plant to observe and has started on transitional plans.

“At the moment we have a lot of dairy cows, and we’re still going to do that, but we’re hoping to get access to more sheep meat, bovine meat.” . . 

Clarkson’s new farming series hits TV screens on 11 June:

Clarkson’s Farm, an eight part series following Jeremy Clarkson as he attempts to run his very own 1000-acre farm, will hit screens on 11 June, Amazon has confirmed.

The series will observe the highs and lows of what the former Top Gear presenter hopes will be a rural idyll, but could just as easily become a rustic nightmare.

Clarkson, a self-confessed “inept townie” with zero agricultural knowledge will, along with some help, try to set up a viable working farm in modern day rural Britain.

Beginning in autumn 2019 and filmed over the course of one farming year, Amazon has officially confirmed that the series will be aired on Friday 11 June. . . 


Rural round-up

05/05/2021

Covid 19 coronavirus: Hawke’s Bay farms short of specialist skilled workers – Sahiban Hyde:

Farms in Hawke’s Bay are at risk of staff fatigue as they struggle with a shortage of specialist skilled workers, says Hawke’s Bay Federated Farmers president.

This follows the decision of the Productivity Commission to hold an inquiry into our current immigration settings.

The inquiry will sit alongside existing changes planned by Immigration, including the implementation of reforms to temporary work visas and a review of the Skilled Migrant Category visa.

Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay president Jim Galloway said the closure of the border because of Covid-19 has seen roles typically filled by specialist skilled workers, relegated to inexperienced staff. . . 

We’ll pick ’em all – Peter Burke:

Kiwifruit is just too valuable not to be picked and despite the challenges of labour and weather, it will be picked.

That’s the message from the Kiwifruit Growers organisation (NZKGI) chief executive Nikki Johnson, who says wet weather and the late maturity of the fruit has slowed down picking. She told Hort News that some employers are faring better than others, which is consistent with other years, and there are still vacancies across packhouse and orchard roles – particularly for nightshift and weekend work.

“While there is a shortage of seasonal labour, we are focused on ensuring that all kiwifruit will be picked and packed this season. A shortage of labour may mean that managers need to be more selective about when particular fruit gets picked and packed,” Johnson says.

“People may also need to work longer shifts. However, the industry is extremely focused on ensuring that all kiwifruit is harvested. It is a high value crop, contributing around $2 billion to New Zealand’s kiwifruit regions in 2020.” . . 

Fruitful 10 years for avocado boss – Sudesh Kissun:

New Zealand Avocado chief executive Jen Scoular has overseen the industry almost treble in value during the past 10 years. Scoular recently completed her 10th year as head of industry-good organisation NZ Avocado.

She and her team have helped guide the industry’s value growth from $68 million in 2011 to a forecast $200m in 2021.

She told Hort News that another achievement for her and the team was gaining crown funding for the first horticulture Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) to enable a step change in the industry. Scoular adds that NZ winning the rights to host the 2023 World Avocado Congress is another feather in her team’s cap.

She says the industry has also worked collaboratively to gain market access and to start exporting to China and India, two of the world’s largest economies. . . 

 

Family of farmers loving living the high life – David Hill:

A passion for farming is the secret to running a high country station, Annabel Tripp says.

Having lived all her life at Snowdon Station, north of Rakaia Gorge, Ms Tripp said there was no disadvantage to being a woman in the high country.

“It’s probably no different from being a man in the high country, really. It’s just about what your passion is, I guess.

“It’s really important that if you’re doing something, that you enjoy it and also that you try to do it to the best of your ability. . . 

Retirement a work in progress – Alice Scott:

Pat Suddaby says he might be retired but he’ll never stop working.

Since selling their 570ha sheep and beef farm in Hindon, near Outram, in 2010, Mr Suddaby and his wife Mary have ensured they have kept busy and active.

Mr Suddaby can be found these days working as a greenkeeper at the Middlemarch Golf Club and he is also an active member of the Strath Taieri Lions Club.

When the farm was sold, there was an adjustment period, Mr Suddaby said. . . 

 

Time the national beef herd’s facts were actually heard – Chris McLennan;

The Australian beef industry is already tired of being told their message of sustainability is not being heard.

But they have been reassured when they finally make headway against the anti-meat lobby, they will have transparency and truth on their side.

Australia’s beef industry has been patiently gathering key facts from individual farms for years.

Experts say all this data will be vital when the time is ripe to lay all the facts out before the public, the good, bad and the ugly. . . 


Rural round-up

21/02/2021

Anxious times – Rural News:

The recent Climate Change Commission discussion document has made many farmers anxious.

Quite rightly, they are keen to know what’s in store for them and DairyNZ has been fielding calls from farmers. The Climate Change Commission was formed alongside work to set the country’s climate targets (including biogenic methane targets).

The establishment of the commission is legislated under the Zero Carbon Act 2019 and its main purpose is to provide evidence-based advice on climate issues.

Under the Act, the commission is required to deliver advice on setting emissions budgets across the entire economy to government. This advice has implications for all sectors of the economy, including farming. . .

Tackling climate change – Andy Loader:

Is it time to take a deep breath and stop to consider the whole climate change debate on a global scale rather than just based on New Zealand’s commitments under the Paris Accord?

We should also consider how we measure the climate change impacts on the environment and move from a per capita basis to one where impact is measured against production outcomes, as this will give a truer picture of the direct impacts on the environment from agricultural production on a global scale.

In last week’s Rural News, Waikato farmer George Moss likened the position New Zealand farmers find themselves in to Team New Zealand in the America’s Cup: “Yes, we are the holders of the cup now, but if we don’t keep innovating and be smart, our competitors will take it off us.”

It’s a great analogy. . . 

Hawke’s Bay farmers not getting enough help with Bovine TB – Sally Round:

A Northern Hawke’s Bay farmer caught up in the response to a bovine tuberculosis outbreak in the area says they’re not getting the support they need to stay afloat.

The animal health agency, OSPRI, works to control the spread of the disease, which is mainly transmitted by possums.

While OSPRI has been working to get the outbreak under control, more than 500 farms have had to spend the last 12 months operating under restricted livestock movement controls. Latest figures released from OSPRI this month showed there were 15 TB-infected herds – down from 20 last year.

Sonya Holloway, who has been farming in the area for 18 years, said the long-running restrictions and additional TB management costs were adding up and they didn’t feel like they were getting enough support. . . 

Gumboot sales booming – Nigel Stirling:

Rubberware sales in export markets and rubber footwear sales in New Zealand boosted Skellerup’s agri division to a record earnings before interest and tax (Ebit) of $15.3 million in the first half of FY2021.

The interim result for the division was an increase on the previous corresponding period of 56% as revenue grew 18%.

The agri division result also contained the first full six-month contribution from the Silclear business in the United Kingdom.

The agri division manufactures dairy consumables and rubber footwear, including milking liners, silicone tubing, teat sprayers and hose nozzles. . . 

A false start to success – Tony Benny:

A Canterbury farming couple tried to do it all from milking the sheep to making and selling their cheeses, but were working long hours so they changed tactics.

When Canterbury farmers Guy and Sue Trafford decided to start milking sheep to make ice cream for export, everything seemed to be falling into place nicely, but those early hopes were dashed and it’s been a long road learning how to make cheese and more importantly, how to market it profitably.

Their Charing Cross Sheep Dairy brand is now well established and after years of doing 90-hour weeks to milk sheep, make cheese, sell it at farmers’ markets and to some supermarkets, as well as both holding down jobs as lecturers at Lincoln University, they’ve now found a way to make it all work – and reduce their hours.

Their interest in milking sheep goes back to when Guy was manager of a 3300ha property near Gisborne, owned by Māori incorporation, Wi Pere Trust. They considered sheep milking and went as far as buying some of the first East Friesian sheep embryos brought into New Zealand. . . 

 

While cities are shut down farmers are making hay – Aaron Patrick:

Australia’s greatest ever wheat crop has made history, and offers lessons for policymakers grappling with natural crises, such as droughts and the pandemic.

From the flat West Australian wheat belt to the slopes of the Great Dividing Range, exhausted farming families have hung up their work boots and parked their tractors, quietly satisfied with making history.

After a drought that tested many farmers’ will to work the dusty soil, this year’s winter crop will be the second-biggest in history, at 55 million tonnes, according to an estimate published on Tuesday by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

Plenty of rain in NSW and Victoria, and good conditions in Western Australia, helped farmers grow 33 million tonnes of wheat – the largest crop ever. . .


Rural round-up

12/02/2021

Plan for feeding New Zealanders fresh vegetables and fruit needed too :

Horticulture New Zealand is calling on the Government to hurry up protection for highly productive land. 

‘While it’s great that the Government is trying to do something to improve housing supply by making land more available through reform of the Resource Management Act (RMA), the New Zealanders who will live in those houses will also want fresh vegetables and fruit to eat at appropriate prices,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘Reports that “Urban sprawl looks set to eat up to 31,270ha of Auckland’s most productive land over the next 35 years” (‘Stupid and inconsistent’: Urban sprawl set to swallow 31,000 hectares of prime land, NZHerald, 9 February 2021) make distressing and dispiriting reading. 

‘Part of New Zealand’s overall plan to house people and respond to climate change needs to be a plan to feed people fresh, healthy locally-grown vegetables and fruit, at appropriate prices.  . . 

Why our dairy farmers should take their own climate-change initiatives rather than wait for govt regulations – Point of Order:

Is the  Climate Change Commission’s draft proposals to meet  NZ’s emissions targets  as  radical  as right-wing commentator  Matthew Hooton contends, or entirely “doable”  as  leftie Simon Wilson  suggests?

The  draft budgets call on  the government to ensure  the  country emits on average 5.6% less than it did  in 2018 every year  between 2022 and 2025, 14.7% less for every year between 2026 and 2030  and 20.9% less  for every year between 2031 and 2035.  This is designed to get NZ to  zero net carbon emissions  by 2050 to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Prime Minister  Jacinda  Ardern, who has said dealing with climate change  is her government’s “nuclear  free moment”,  says she will introduce new policies  and a  new international climate target to meet the shrinking carbon budgets set out by the CCC. . . 

Half a billion babies – Gerard Hutching:

Artificial Breeding (AB) technician Dirk van de Ven has an enviable lifestyle.

For about three months of the year the Winton, Southland, man works as an AB technician, earning enough to see him and wife Mieke through the year, albeit with odd jobs supplementing his main income.

“Then I do a little hoof trimming, gardening, walks, get firewood – it all keeps me fit. We work very hard for three months, then do a few little jobs,” Dirk says. . . 

A false start to success – Tony Benny:

A Canterbury farming couple tried to do it all from milking the sheep to making and selling their cheeses, but were working long hours so they changed tactics.

When Canterbury farmers Guy and Sue Trafford decided to start milking sheep to make ice cream for export, everything seemed to be falling into place nicely, but those early hopes were dashed and it’s been a long road learning how to make cheese and more importantly, how to market it profitably.

Their Charing Cross Sheep Dairy brand is now well established and after years of doing 90-hour weeks to milk sheep, make cheese, sell it at farmers’ markets and to some supermarkets, as well as both holding down jobs as lecturers at Lincoln University, they’ve now found a way to make it all work – and reduce their hours. . .

Social media could be boosting sales of exotic kiwano fruit from Te Puke – Karoline Tuckey:

Somewhere just outside Te Puke, fields of strange alien-like vines are unfurling their tendrils, and growing large egg-like mottled golden fruits, covered in sharp spikes – and US buyers can’t get enough.

The bizarre harvest is Enzed Exotics’ kiwano crop, which pickers began collecting from the vines last week.

Owner Renee Hutchings said kiwano are horned melons – a type of African cucumber.

She has about 11 hectares planted with 60,000 vines this season. They normally produce about 30,000 trays or 135 tonnes of fruit, mostly for export. . . 

Far North farmers desperate for rain :

Farmers in the Far North are nervously awaiting some rain as dry weather intensifies in the region.

NIWA reports parts of the district are in severe meteorological drought and the region’s farming leaders are meeting this week to discuss what could happen next.

Northland Rural Support Trust chair Chris Neill said the extremely dry conditions in some areas was partly a carryover from last year’s drought.

“We are collecting information from our contacts across the region so we get a much clearer localised view of it,” Neill said. . . 


Rural round-up

09/02/2021

Environmental reforms putting more pressure on struggling farmers – Nadine Porter:

More mental health resources and shorter waiting times to access help will be needed to support dairy farmers trying to follow proposed new environmental rules, industry advocates say.

Rural Support Trust Mid-Canterbury wellbeing co-ordinator Frances Beeston said there had been at least a 30 per cent rise in farmers seeking support since Christmas, and she believed that would increase further as more environmental reforms were introduced.

The Climate Change Commission released a draft plan last week designed to help the Government meet its promise of reaching net zero emissions of long-lived gases by 2050, and reducing biogenic methane emissions by 24 to 47 per cent by 2050.

The plan noted current policies would lead to an 8 to 10 per cent reduction in New Zealand’s livestock numbers, but said a 15 per cent drop would be needed to meet the Government’s targets. . . 

More trees less stock – Peter Burke:

More science and technology, more trees and fewer livestock is the prescription that the Climate Change Commission has offered up in its draft report on how to reduce greenhouse gases in the agriculture sector.

The report covers all aspects of New Zealand society and includes agriculture. In the 200 page chronicle, the Climate Commission sets out a plan for NZ to meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets by 2050.

It is a draft report, based on the commission’s own research and submissions from a wide range of organisations and individuals. It is now out for consultation before a final report is prepared by the end of May.

Commission chair Rod Carr says to achieve the Government’s goal of net zero emissions by 2050, there needs to be transformational and lasting change across society and the economy. He says the Government must act now and pick up the pace. . .

Will wool go the way of whalers? -Pete Fitz-Herbert:

“Being the best whale hunters in the world didn’t protect the whaling fleets.”

That comment from Climate Commission chair Rod Carr about New Zealand’s low-emission beef and dairy production, has Manawatu farmer Pete Fitz-Herbert thinking about the future of the wool industry:

In the future – will farmers be seen as whalers are now?

How long, before the last whale was harpooned off the coast, was the writing on the wall that it wasn’t the career choice that it once was? . . 

Why you should eat your heart out for ‘Organuary’ – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Encouraging people to eat more animal organs for Organuary may seem like a light-hearted response to the vegan movement, but research shows it could reduce greenhouse gases, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth investigates.

Eating the heart of your enemy might seem a bit extreme these days but in the past it was an acceptable part of a surprising number of cultures – surprising until one considers food scarcity, that is.

Eating whatever was available was a matter of expediency and the lore that arose around what each part of the body signified shows an early awareness of basic function.

Eating the brain and tongue gave knowledge and bravery; the heart gave courage and power. . . 

MBIE funds hemp research :

A Taranaki-based medicinal cannabis and industrial hemp venture is part of a group that will investigate ways to turn hemp seed hulls into products for the global market. Greenfern Industries is part of a partnership that was awarded $145,000 in cash and in-kind funding for research into products created from the by-products of hemp seed oil processing. Greenfern will work alongside industry partners Callaghan Innovation and Hemp Connect as part of the project funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Bioresource Processing Alliance (BPA).

BPA invests in research and development projects with the aim of generating additional export revenue for New Zealand by working with the primary sector to get better value out of biological by-products.

Boarding school parents sick of borders closing ‘at the drop of a hat’ – Jamieson Murphy:

THE parents of interstate boarding school students are constantly worried that when they drop their children off at school, they may not be able to get home, with state borders slamming shut “at the drop of a hat”.

The Isolated Children’s Parents Association has called for a nationally consistent and long-term approach to border restrictions for boarding students.

ICPA president Alana Moller said while urban schools were closed for weeks during COVID outbreaks, many rural students were not able to return to their boarding school for months, even several terms due to border closures.

“Students from western NSW who board in Victoria weren’t able to go, because they weren’t sure if they could come back,” Ms Moller said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

27/01/2021

Pledge to end child labour in agriculture:

The director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Qu Dongyu, has pledged to intensify efforts toward addressing child labour in agriculture through a dedicated work programme.

“This year, we will step up our efforts to strengthen the capacities of a wide range of agricultural actors to include child labour prevention and youth employment in their work,” he said during the virtual event launch of the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour 2021.

“Policies, programmes, and investments related to agri-food systems need to address the root causes of child labour, including household poverty,” he added. . . 

Crunch time for struggling Otago orchards – Tess Brunton:

Some Central Otago orchards say this season’s crop is a write off, while others are struggling to find enough workers.

It has been a tough season for the growers, with Covid-19 border restrictions cutting the crucial supply of overseas workers.

To make matters worse, a deluge hit during the peak cherry harvest.

Ettrick Gardens co-owner John Preedy has been growing fruit, berries and vegetables in the small Central Otago town of Ettrick for decades. . . 

‘Tough situation’: Government aid sought after hail damaged Tasman crop – Susan Murray:

Tasman orchardists are calling on the government to provide financial help following severe hail on Boxing Day.

The devastating Boxing Day hail event which hit most of the Tasman district could cost it more than $100 million and locals say the government’s been silent about coming up with support.

Some apple, kiwifruit, and hop growers lost their entire production and they describe the event as the worst in living memory.

Insurance will not cover all the losses and the impact will be felt well beyond this season. . . 

First time competitor cleans up :

A first time competitor has won the Taranaki Manawatu FMG Young Farmer of the Year Regional Final.

Jake Jarman, 23, not only took out the regional title and became the first competitor of the season named for the grand final, he also won the most points in all four contest strainers. 

Jarman beat two-time regional winner and two-time previous grand final qualifier James Lawn, who came in second place.

Taranaki Manawatu New Zealand Young Farmers chair Kate Stewart, 24, was awarded third place. . . 

Birthplace of the Hamilton Jet, Irishman Creek Station on market – Kylie Klein-Nixon:

A stunning high country farm that once belonged to farming and engineering legend Sir William Hamilton is seeking a new shepherd.

Irishman Creek station, the birthplace of the Hamilton jet engine – which allows boats to skim across shallow water – has come on the market.

Comprised of pristine Mackenzie country tussock and farmland bordering Lake Pukaki, with views of Aoraki-Mt Cook, the 8642ha farm is more than 100 years old. The property even includes the original homestead, a two-storey prairie-style villa. . . 

Mouse plague wreaks havoc across two states, destroying crops in Qld, blanketing parts of NSW – Maddelin McCosker and Vicki Thompson:

A mouse plague is wreaking havoc across multiple Australian states, as people in the town and country pull out all stops to try to control the outbreak.

A “carpet” of mice has blanketed parts of New South Wales, from Merriwa in the Upper Hunter region to Tamworth and Moree in New England.

WARNING: Some people may find images in this article distressing.

In Queensland, a plague that began seven months ago is leaving a trail of destruction that has cost tens of thousands of dollars in lost crops and property damage.

From southern Queensland to the south-west and up into central Queensland, farmers, graziers, business owners and residents are doing all they can to control the mice, but the rodents seem unstoppable. . . 


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