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. . . 


Rural round-up

17/01/2021

A year of opportunity and challenges – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The year ahead for New Zealand’s primary sector is full of promise and opportunity.

Of course, there are challenges and there will be more that haven’t yet been realised. But the very fact that the country is relying on the sector to underpin, enable and drive economic growth means that there will be support. And the goodwill towards the work that the primary sector did during the Covid lockdown is still with us.

Internationally we are highly-respected for what we achieved collectively through Covid. New Zealanders listened to the science, obeyed the instructions and achieved a positive result.

What applied during Covid reflects our general attitude – when the facts are clear, we comply. This is part of why we are trusted as a food supplier. Our food is safe to eat as well as delicious. It is also what people want for health. . . 

Gym for farmers – Nigel Beckford:

A home-built gym was the start of Kane Brisco’s journey from milking shed to social media influencer.  

Kane’s into his seventh year 50/50 share milking at Ohangai near Hawera, in South Taranaki. His progress in the industry’s been rapid and life’s busy on all fronts.

“We have 215 cows which I pretty much milk myself. My wife helps as much as she can with the calves, but she’s working part time as a nurse too. We’ve also got a 6-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy. The last 2 years have been hectic with my daughter starting school and the younger one becoming more mobile and racing around.”

Juggling these responsibilities would be a challenge for anyone. How does Kane cope? The answer might surprise some people – as busy as he is, Kane dedicates part of each day solely to meeting his own needs. . .

Passion for or shearing started early for young shepherd – Sandy Eggleston:

A fascination watching shearers as a child has drawn one young woman into having a go herself.

Shepherd Melissa Hamilton took part in the 39th Northern Southland Community Shears held at the Selbie family woolshed, Lowther Downs, near Lumsden yesterday.

Miss Hamilton grew up on a sheep and beef farm near Browns.

“When we were shearing it was the most exciting time of the year — always fascinated watching the shearers.” . .

Heavy rain no dampener for wine makers – Jared Morgan:

The New Year’s deluge of torrential rain has been welcomed by winemakers.

Their gain is in stark contrast to the pain caused by the rain to the region’s orchardists, whose cherry crops were all but wiped out by the heaviest rainfall in 40 years.

The epicentre for flooding of orchards and vineyards was the Earnscleugh area between Alexandra and Clyde.

The flooding was caused by the Fraser River breaching its banks and runoff from the Rocky Range; it was the latter that led to the cellar door and the winery at Black Ridge Vineyard being inundated with about 6cm of water and mud. . .

Why is it so hard to find lemons right now? – Alex Braae:

Supermarket shoppers looking for citrus are seeing a sour trend at the moment – some stores are entirely tapped out of lemons. But why? 

Batches of homemade lemonade will be taking a hit this summer, with life not giving New Zealand shoppers lemons. Prices are high at supermarkets and grocers that have the citrus fruit, and some stores have completely sold out.

The problem isn’t so much domestic problem – the citrus industry in New Zealand is small, but is largely operating as normal. Rather, import difficulties are making it much harder to stack the shelves. . .

Omarama Clay Cliffs – the little slice of Mars hidden in South Canterbury* – Brook Sabin:

New Zealand has no shortage of stunningly beautiful drives, and one of the best is between Queenstown and Aoraki Mt/Cook. This route weaves through some of our most spectacular mountain scenery, with a few hidden gems in between.

From Queenstown, ascend the Crown Range, as you wind your way into a majestic mountainscape that passes through Cardrona village. After an hour you’ll be in Wānaka, where you can stop for ice cream at Patagonia Chocolates, and a leisurely walk along the waterfront to see That Wānaka Tree.

Next, traverse the stunningly sparse Lindis Pass, before reaching the heartland of hidden gems: Omarama, which has two unmissable stops.

This unworldly landscape has to be one of the most underrated attractions in New Zealand. If it were overseas, there’d be ticket queues, cafes and novelty shops scattered around the place. Here, there’s a hand-painted sign pointing towards the entrance and an honesty box which asks for $5 per car to visit . .

* The cliffs are amazing & they’re on the right side of the Waitaki River so in North Otago not South Canterbury.

 


Rural round-up

22/12/2020

Trust advises care as drought threatens – Sally Rae:

Farmers in the Waimate and North Otago districts are being urged to keep an eye on each other as the area becomes “critically dry”.

Affected areas included Waimate, Waihaorunga and through the Hakataramea Valley and coastal North Otago, Otago Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Lindsay Purvis said.

Stock seemed to be in good order, which was often the case when drought started, and some farmers were weaning lambs at 8 weeks old, Mr Purvis said.

There seemed to be a market from Dunedin south for store lambs, although the store beef market had “virtually collapsed”. . . 

Red meat industry’s problems researched – John Gibb:

A change of direction is needed urgently if the future of New Zealand’s red meat industry is to be salvaged, a researcher warns.

“When I dug into this I could see that most of it is not fantastic,’’ University of Otago researcher James Wilkes said.

On Saturday, Mr Wilkes, of Christchurch, became the first New Zealand-based former student to graduate with the new Otago doctor of business administration (DBA) degree.

Four other people were also in the first cohort to gain the degree, including two Chinese students whose graduation was celebrated at a Zoom event. . . 

Migrant worker visas extended to address labour uncertainties :

The government is extending the visas of many migrant workers to ease labour shortfalls.

As part of a package announced tonight, working holiday and employer-assisted work visas will be pushed forward six months.

A 12-month stand-down period for low-paid Essential Skills visa holders working in New Zealand for three years will also be put on hold until January 2022. . . 

How wine and cheese can boost your brain :

Got a soft spot for cheese and a drop of red wine? Your brain might just thank you for it.

New research from Iowa State University shows consumption of cheese and red wine can boost the brain.

The study’s lead author, assistant professor of food science and human nutrition Auriel Willette, said the findings about the beneficial effects of cheese were unexpected.

“To my total surprise… the strongest predictor of people having good food intelligence is cheese. . . 

New system a big boost for dam safety – David Williams:

A two-and-a-half-year upgrade completes a 30-year journey for a big tech company, David Williams writes in this content partnership article

What’s striking about dams, like people, is how different they are, Dam Safety Intelligence’s general manager Dan Forster says. 

“Dams have all got their own unique personalities and characteristic traits. And the big thing is that on the surface a dam can seem to be in good condition and performing well but what really matters is how it’s performing underneath the surface.”

If it were human, a well-monitored dam might look like a patient in hospital, with a pin-cushion of sensors and instruments poking into and out of them. In the case of a big dam, experts are checking for things like the reservoir level, seepage flow, and “piezometric” pressures on various parts of the engineered structure, such as where the dam meets other surfaces, called abutments. . . 

 

Grants for farmers wanting to grow Christmas trees :

Financial support is being offered to Cheshire farmers interested in growing a Christmas tree crop on their land.

Grants covering up to 70% of the planting and establishment costs of a conifer crop has been made available by United Utilities.

Alongside this, expert advice and training on all aspects of Christmas tree growing will be given to farmers.

The water firm’s catchment advisor, Vee Moore said growing Christmas trees can be a profitable use of land. . . 


Rural round-up

12/09/2020

New freshwater rules ‘terrible’ for West Coast – regional chair – Lois Williams:

More resource consents, more monitoring, more money and more staff – the government’s new rules for managing freshwater will cost the West Coast big-time, according to regional council chairman Allan Birchfield.

The final policies and regulations on freshwater came into force last week and regional councils around the country now have to enforce them.

Among them, the new wetland rules posed the biggest headache and expense for the West Coast, Birchfield said.

The West Coast Regional Council had spent more than 10 years mapping and defining significant wetlands throughout the region, as required by the government under the Resource Management Act. . . 

Winding up a long career championing New Zealand – Sally Rae:

When Lyn Jaffray walks out the door of Silver Fern Farms’ headquarters in Dunedin tomorrow, it will be the end of an era, as business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

Lyn Jaffray is preparing to close his last deal with Silver Fern Farms.

When he retires tomorrow, it will mark a 48-year association with the company which has included more than 20 years managing its China market.

The former All Black’s departure follows a discussion about succession and a year-long transition period, and he was happy with the timing of it.

“I’m comfortable where we are, the company’s going great, I’m comfortable with closing the deal,” he said. . . 

Demand for merino wool drops 40% – Maja Burry:

Demand for Merino wool has taken a hit, with fine wool prices at auction back by about 40 percent on this time last year.

Merino sheep are typically shorn between July and October. The main selling period for this wool runs from August through to early December.

Crossbred wool, typically used in carpets, makes up about 85 percent of New Zealand’s wool clip. Fine wools such as Merino attract a premium price and are often used in high end garments including sportswear and suits.

AgriHQ said at auction fine wool in the 17-18 micron range was fetching $13 to $15 a kilogram clean, down 35 to 40 percent on last year. . . 

US pandemic crisis stalls delivery of quad bikes for NZ farmers– Eric Frykberg:

Covid-19 has hit the farming community in an unexpected way: it is drying up the supply of farm vehicles such as quad bikes.

That is because factories that assemble them in the United States have had their production disrupted by the virus April.

Even where a factory has continued assembling the vehicles, vital spare parts have often been held up when the coronavirus has hit outsourced supply companies, meaning the final product cannot be completed because one vital component is missing.

“Sometimes, we are a month behind waiting for the stock to come in,” said dealer Blair Howden of Winton Motorcycles in Southland. . . 

Green vegetables grow at the foot of big mountains – Keith Woodford:

Green vegetables and hydroponics combine nicely when consumers are close but productive land is scarce

Green vegetables are best produced close to where people live.  But nature often needs a little help to make it happen.  That is where glasshouses and hydroponics come into play.  It is a combination that allows green vegetables to be grown throughout the year in most parts of New Zealand while still being aligned to nature.

Some of my readers will know that I am a fan for the mountains of the Otago Lakes District.  Also, for more than 50 years I have been a skier, becoming even more enthusiastic as the years go by, with skiing now providing both joy and adrenaline for a retired mountaineer. . . 

Rural Insight: NZ trial to crunch regen numbers:

Regenerative agriculture has become something of a buzzword in farming and food circles over the past year, and the subject of well populated field days, chat groups and media coverage.

As a practice, “regenerative” agriculture covers a broad sweep of land use practices, with a focus on regenerating topsoil while also improving water quality, building plant biodiversity on-farm and reducing the level of cultivation and tillage.

For its part, New Zealand is beginning to play catch up on acquiring data on its own regenerative experience.

In Canterbury, the Align Group of farms with four dairy units over 1,500ha has committed to a regenerative trial, effectively splitting the operation into conventional and regenerative across two dairy farms. . . 

 


Rural round-up

20/08/2020

Some farmers can’t access stock due to Auckland border restrictions – Sarah robson:

Farmers with properties either side of Auckland’s southern border are frustrated they haven’t been able to check stock or get essential supplies because of the alert level 3 lockdown.

Travel in to, out of and through Auckland is heavily restricted, with only a limited number of exemptions.

Federated Farmers Auckland president Alan Cole said that was causing headaches for farmers with properties in both Auckland and Waikato.

“They are unable to get to them,” he said.

“You need to be able to get to your stock basically every day or every second day to feed out, check them. Some of the guys are calving at the moment and they’ve got properties on either side of the boundary.” . . 

COVID-19: Let the small guys stay open — Feds – Sudesh Kissun:

Calls are growing for the Government to allow butchers and independent fruit and vegetable retailers to operate under COVID-19 Alert Levels.

Federated Farmers is the latest industry lobby calling for the Government to reconsider and let small fresh food sellers stay open under level 3 and, if necessary, at level 4.

New Zealand’s first COVID-19 lockdown rules meant butchers, bakers and greengrocers could not open as the small retailers were considered non-essential.

But Feds president Andrew Hoggard is pleading with the Government to “let the little guys stay open”. . . 

Meeting leads to productive relationship – Kerrie Waterworth:

A Wanaka farmer and sheep breeder who has developed wool for some of the world’s most sought-after Covid-19  face masks is already thinking of new value-added ways to use coarse wool in other industries. Kerrie Waterworth reports.

Five  years ago Andy Ramsden was looking for a home for a new type of wool from his trademarked Astino breed.

At a presentation in Queenstown by a New York consultancy firm on the state of the New Zealand wool industry he met the chief executive of Auckland-based air filter producer Lanaco, Nick Davenport.

Mr Ramsden said they sat down for a quick cup of coffee and stood up four hours later. . . 

Velvet trumps venison – Sally Rae:

It is a tale of two halves in the deer industry as venison schedule prices drop to their lowest level in more than a decade while consumer demand for velvet remains robust.

ANZ’s latest Agri Focus report said venison markets were “extremely challenging”; venison was highly exposed to the European restaurant trade and the industry was scrambling to move more products into the retail space to reduce reliance on the food service sector.

Farmgate prices for deer might have “ticked up a tad” recently but prices had not been at such low levels for more than a decade.

“It is a real blow for an industry that was doing so well and had appeared to have moved away from the volatile cycles of boom and bust that have long plagued the industry,” the report said. . .

NZ food industry benefits from leading-edge portable drying technology:

When Robert Barnes was asked by a friend to build a dryer to dehydrate macadamia nuts 25 years ago, he never thought it would be the start of his own drying machine business.

Robert, an electrician and refrigeration engineer by trade, set up his own refrigeration and air-conditioning company in 1989, attracting Port of Tauranga as one of his clients. Since 1995 he has also been using his skills to develop highly innovative Rexmoi® Dryers. He sold the refrigeration and air conditioning business five years ago to focus solely on Drying Solutions Ltd.

Now Robert is gearing up to exhibit a Rexmoi® Dryer, at his fourth Foodtech Packtech show next month. . . 

Cow’s milk greener than vegan alternatives :

Cows’ milk from grass-based systems is environmentally friendlier than plant-based alternatives because it uses far less soya, according to a new study.

It says vegans and others who buy milk substitutes made from soya for their latte and cappuccino, or breakfast cereal, are harming the planet. The study, published in the Journal of Applied Animal Nutrition, says consumers’ ever-increasing demand for soya meal and palm kernel meal is fuelling the destruction of rainforest.

The authors calculate that about 85 litres of milk is produced in the UK for every kilo of soya bean meal consumed by dairy cows. . . 


Rural round-up

18/05/2020

Tears as convoy of trucks deliver donated bales to drought-stricken Hawke’s Bay farmers -Aroha Treacher:

More than 600 bales have been donated to drought-stricken farmers in the Hawke’s Bay as they struggle through one of the worst droughts the region has seen in decades. A convoy of trucks made the journey to Hawke’s Bay to drop off some much-needed relief.

“It’s so good to be here with this fantastic contribution of feed that’s come all the way to the Hawke’s Bay from farmers right throughout the Wairarapa,” says David Todd of the Rural Support Trust in Hawke’s Bay.

“There were tears we’ll say, and from big truckies. There was tears, so it’s quite a big deal,” says Poppy Renton of the Hawke’s Bay Drought Facebook page.

From here, the feed will be distributed out to needy farmers through the rural support trust. . . 

12 year-old photographer brings drought struggles home:

The Jowsey family are among many Hawke’s Bay farmers struggling with drought. The daily grind of feeding and watering stock on the parched paddocks is being documented on camera by the youngest in the family, 12-year-old Selby.

A rust-coloured paddock, a trail of sheep mid-trot, rolling grey hills and and a steely grey sky.

It catches your eye, this slightly tilted image of feeding out time on a drought-stricken farm in Hawke’s Bay.

Selby Jowsey, 12, says he’s tried to capture the moment. . .

Creativity in dealing with drought  –  Peter Burke:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is taking some creative initiatives to help farmers deal with the drought gripping large parts of the country.

Promoting alternative stock feeds, staging webinars and arranging feed coordinators are just some of the initiatives.

BLNZ North Island regional manager Matt Ward told Rural News that farmers are not only concerned with the immediate problem of the drought, but how they will be in spring.

He says supplies of baleage are very limited and his team of extension officers have been working to get what feed is available to the farmers that need it most.

Budget misses the boat on water – Annette Scott:

The Budget is missed opportunity for water, Irrigation New Zealand chief executive Elizabeth Soal says.

While the covid-19 recovery fund has $3 billion set aside for infrastructure Soal is not confident water storage and reticulation will fit the Government’s bill.

“We were really excited about the opportunity unfolding for water as we face huge economic challenges.”

But the Budget failed to deliver.

“This is missed opportunity,” Soal said.  . . 

Benefit uncertain in tense times – Hugh Stringleman:

Kiwi beef producers might not benefit from a significantly reduced Australian cattle kill this year, AgriHQ analyst Mel Croad says.

“Too many other factors are working in world protein markets to be sure that Australia’s expected shortfall will flow on to greater demand for our beef exports,” she said.

A predicted 17% reduction in Australian beef exports in 2020 might help stabilise world prices rather than increase them for other supplying countries.

Australia is going to do what it would in a normal year, without covid-19, and that is rebuild its herd after widespread rain. . . 

ProductionWise® and OverseerFM can “talk”:

FAR’s ProductionWise® farm recording package is now able to interface directly with OverseerFM, a development which will make nutrient management reporting a lot faster and cheaper for most ProductionWise users.

FAR ProductionWise Manager, Melanie Bates, says that enabling the two systems to ‘talk to each other’ was always a goal, and although it’s taken a while, testing shows that the benefits will be huge.

“Formal discussions with Overseer about the project began in January 2019, and late last year, the ProductionWise technical team, headed by Chris Day from Flurosat, and the OverseerFM technical team started working together to plan out the integration process via computer ‘json’ files. Chris has developed a very simple and visual way to build up the json file from recorded data in PW into OverseerFM. In simple terms, you can extract your ProductionWise data to a file that can be imported into the OverseerFM platform, allowing you to create your year-end analysis easily.” . . 


Rural round-up

13/02/2020

Equity losses dog dairy farming – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy analysts agree with the key factors of a Rabobank prediction of falling dairy land values over the next five years.

Rabobank dairy analyst Emma Higgins said land values have been in neutral for the past decade and are likely to drift downwards over the next five years.

In her report, Afloat but Drifting Backwards, she predicts an average $6.25/kg MS farmgate milk price, which will be barely break-even with low investor confidence, high farm debt, tighter Reserve Bank regulations, foreign capital restrictions and the costs of environmental compliance also factors. . .

Goodbye Britain again :

Those of us who have been around for quite a few years will remember the unhappy and heady days when Britain joined the then EEC on the January 1, 1973.

Up until then, NZ had enjoyed unlimited access to Britain for its agricultural products and at one stage there was even a law passed that said they had to be given priority for our exports.

When Britain joined the EEC, many NZer’s felt hurt and disappointed that the so called ‘mother country’ had deserted us and that we now had to find new markets for our agricultural exports. . .

Busy field days tenure comes to an end – Sally Rae:

Ask Sharon Paterson to recall the most memorable moments during her tenure as event manager-secretary of the Southern Field Days, and an unlikely response is forthcoming.

It was the day she and then organising committee chairman Logan Evans were chatting to Prime Minister John Key and deputy Prime Minister Bill English when they were “photo-bombed” by Road Safety Southland mascot Harry the Hippo.

“That was so hilarious,” Mrs Paterson recalled.

Thousands of people will converge on the small, rural settlement of Waimumu this week for the event, which is held every second year — this year from Wednesday to Friday. . . .

Are you up for the challenge? – Nigel Malthus:

A new event for the 2020 Southern Field Days will be an ‘Amazing Race’-style challenge.

The event is aimed at exciting and informing young people about employment opportunities across the agricultural sector.

Pitched at school pupils, school leavers and career changers, the “Food & Fibre Discovery Challenge” will have participants following clues and answering questions as they navigate around the grounds between participating exhibitors.  . . 

Fiftieth year for New Zealand innovation – Richard Davison:

Fifty years ago, the spirit of “fair go” led to a new branch of rural competition in Balclutha, that has since spread worldwide.

The Otago Shearing and Woolhandling Championships take place in the South Otago town once more tomorrow, but it is only thanks to the self-described stubbornness of former Clinton farmer Don Moffat that the woolhandlers will be celebrating 50 years of competition this time round.

Otago Shears chairman in 1969-70, Mr Moffat believed the efforts and skill of the South’s woolhandlers were such that they deserved their own branch of competition. . . 

Share-farming and leasing properties enabled a Riverina couple to reduce risk – Olivia Calver:

Entering farming is becoming more and more restrictive as land prices surge, but Kendra and Brent Kerrisk, Ganmain found share-farming and leasing properties enabled them to get a foothold in the industry.

The Kerrisk’s, both from rural backgrounds in New Zealand, came out to Australia 14 years ago with the goal to buy a house with some acreage. . .

 


Rural round-up

08/01/2020

When aspirations trip up the export/import balance – Simon Davies:

As a country if we don’t want to lose half our shirt we need to ensure we are earning at least what we are spending, writes Otago Federated Farmers President Simon Davies.

I’ve heard several people of late, including a current labour MP, question the need for our farmers to produce more food than New Zealand needs for its own consumption.

It got me thinking …

When I was at high school, which was more than a couple of decades ago, one of my elective courses was economics. . . 

Declining dairy farm values are likely to continue – Keith Woodford:

Dairy farm values have been declining now for well over a year and there is no sign they will stabilise. The key issue is a lack of buyers with the necessary finance. The implications are starting to get serious.

There are multiple reasons why there is a lack of buyers. The biggest one is a change in bank lending policies. Those policies are set in Melbourne and Sydney where the big banks are headquartered. 

None of the Big Four banks are interested in new dairy lending unless the investor has high equity.  The related policy is that all banks now want repayments of principal whereas interest-only loans were the norm for many years. At least two of the Big Four banks are actively trying to reduce their exposure to New Zealand dairying. . .

Taranaki in 2050: Technology and diverse land use twin futures of farming – Deena Coster:

When Hamish and Kate Dunlop first floated the idea of using their land to grow quinoa, they raised more than a few eyebrows within the farming fraternity.

The Taranaki couple, who have four children, wanted to diversify the way they were using their 400 hectare Ararata Rd farm, and initially looked at growing hemp.

However, after some more research, they decided to go with the South American edible seed instead. . . 

From Taranaki hives to US shelves: Journey of Bees and Trees mānuka honey – Alyssa Smith:

When someone from the US puts honey on their toast in the morning, there is a good chance that honey has come from Taranaki.

To get it from Taranaki to the US, American businessman Mike Everly commutes between his home town of Atlanta, Georgia to Taranaki three to four times a year.

It’s a route he knows well. He has been doing it for 10 years now, and he says he doesn’t plan to stop.

Mike is the founder of Bees and Trees honey, a company which sells authentic Taranaki honey in the United States. . .

Is NZ on the cusp of a hemp revolution? – Amy Ridout:

In the 20 years since Pam Coleman has been on her 80-hectare rural property near Ngatimoti, north-west of Nelson, she has let the land take over.

The golden hay meadows buzz with life, and kanuka and manuka have overtaken the gorse. The couple raise rare-breed sheep, grow olives and make cheese. 

When the law changed a year ago to add hemp seeds to the list of allowable food products in New Zealand, Coleman began reading up.

“I thought, that’s it, that’s the way to go,” she said. . . 

Marijuana licensing rules to create route – Brent Melville:

It will cost about $12,500 a year to possess, manufacture and supply medicinal cannabis products.

New licensing rules for the legal manufacture and distribution of medicinal cannabis will create a route to market for dozens of companies that have, to date, been limited to research.

Announcing the new quality and licensing regime last week, Minister of Health David Clark said the regulations would help ease the pain of thousands of people. . . 

Red meat plays vital role in diets, claims expert in fightback against veganism – James Tapper:

Advocates of red meat will begin a fightback against the growth of veganism this week at the UK’s biggest farming conference, with claims that eating lamb and beef is vital because some plants and fish are being drained of their nutrition.

In a speech at the Oxford Farming Conference, Alice Stanton will tell ministers, farmers and environmentalists that key nutrients in some fruits, vegetables and grains have dropped by up to 50% over 50 years.

Stanton, professor of cardiovascular pharmacology at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, said nutrition levels had dropped because farmers were trying to meet a demand for cheap food. “For plant-based foods, there’s been drops in vitamins and key electrolytes by up to 50% over the past 50 years because of the genetic selection for large volume and uniformity of shape and appearance, so the things look good on the shelves. There hasn’t been selection for nutrient content,” she told the Observer. . . 


Rural round-up

04/10/2019

Sheepmeat and beef exports in 2019-20 both forecast to break $4 billion for the first time:

China’s demand for New Zealand’s beef, lamb and mutton is forecast to propel both sheepmeat and beef exports past the $4 billion mark for the first time.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) New Season Outlook 2019-20 report forecasts beef, lamb and mutton prices to lift from historically high levels, helped by continuing strong export demand and an expected weakening of the New Zealand dollar.

“We have forecast increases in farm-gate prices for beef, lamb and mutton in 2019-20, because small increases in in-market prices are expected to be further assisted by an easing of the New Zealand dollar,” says B+LNZ Chief Economist Andrew Burtt. . . 

Agriculture Minister O’Connor under fire at Gore meeting – Rachael Kelly:

The Minister of Agriculture refused to accept that the Government is affecting farmers’ balance sheets.

O’Connor fronted up to a Ministry for the Environment freshwater consultation meeting in Gore attended by about 400 farmers on Thursday.

He told farmers to “get over it” when he was questioned about farmers’ equity.

While he told the crowd the one thing the Government needed to front up to was how banks were treating farmers at the moment, it wasn’t long before a heckler said it was O’Connor’s Government that was driving the equity out of farmer’s balance sheets. . .

Farmers urged to have say on water – Yvonne O’Hara:

Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young can see why some farmers could become disheartened and consider giving up their farms if they continue to get hammered by new regulatory requirements and increasing compliance costs.

He has done the maths on the impact the Government’s proposed Essential Freshwater rules would likely have on his ability to earn a living from his 5400ha hill country sheep and beef Cattle Flat Station, near Balfour.

It runs about 15,000 stock units including 8000 breeding ewes and 550 cows, on mainly hill country. . . 

Celebrity chef Al Brown says city slickers are the ones ruining the environment – Teresa Ramsey:

City slickers need to clean up their own backyard before criticising farmers, top New Zealand chef Al Brown says.

Brown, who owns restaurants in Auckland and Wellington, slammed “urban keyboard warriors” in a Facebook post aimed at defending farmers.

During a weekend in rural Raglan, Brown said he was impressed by the “extraordinary beauty of the NZ countryside”.

“Farm after farm in beautiful condition…..we witnessed many new plantings of native trees, fenced off waterways and blocks of old established bush breaking up the pastural land and providing ample shade for the stock,” he said in the Facebook post. . . 

The Trans-Tasman honey wars :

Small jars of New Zealand Mānuka honey are about to go on sale in the UK for nearly $3000 each.

The ‘super’ honey is collected by helicopter from remote parts of the North Island where there are heavy concentrations of Mānuka trees.

The high price is driven by a limited supply. A thousand jars only will be available exclusively from Harrods. While most of New Zealand’s Mānuka honey does not command such an extravagant price there is strong and growing demand internationally. . . 

Nelson man takes Young Grower of the Year – Angie Skerrett:

A Nelson man with a strong family connection to horticulture in the region has been named as New Zealand Young Grower of the Year 2019.

Jono Sutton was announced as the winner at an awards dinner in Tauranga on Wednesday night.

As the regional Nelson finalist he was up against six other contestants from around New Zealand.

The finalists were tested on a range of practical tasks and theory during the week, culminating in the awards presentation. . . 

 

Sour milk: how are US dairy farmers coping? – Lindsay Campbell:

US farming has seen better days.

Matt Moreland has taken what little hope he had left in dairy farming and put it behind him.

Moreland, who comes from three generations of dairy farmers, thought that after graduating from college he would follow that path as well.

But with the decline of milk prices and uncertainty of the industry’s future, he says it didn’t take long for him to come up with other ways to pay the bills. . .

 


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