Rural round-up

16/08/2022

Lack of rural health services distressing – RWNZ :

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) say it is distressing to see rural communities suffer due to a lack of access to quality health services.

RWNZ president Gill Naylor says the health and wellbeing of rural communities is at risk of further deterioration if something is not done to resolve the issues facing people who live, work and play in rural New Zealand.

In June this year, a rural health strategy was added to the Pae Ora Healthy Futures legislation which came into effect last month. The strategy had been removed during the select committee phase but was added back into the legislation after Health Minister Andrew Little was convinced to add it by his party’s ‘rural caucus’.

Naylor says the challenges rural families face with access to health services are varied and include a lack of rural midwives, lack of rural nurses and GPs, lack of rural mental health services, delays in emergency services such as ambulances and long distances to travel for services like allied health and cancer treatment. . . 

Exotics forestation surges on ETS carbon values – Richard Rennie:

The Climate Change Commission is estimating exotic forestation has surged to a rate well beyond the annual levels it says is required for New Zealand to achieve 380,000ha of exotic plantings by 2035.

The commission’s general manager for emissions budgets, Stephen Walter, told delegates at this year’s Carbon Forestry conference that the latest data indicates 60,000ha of exotic forest will be planted this year. That is more than twice the rate the commission envisaged.

This is also reflected in the Ministry for Primary Industries’ workload for accepting forests into the Emissions Trading Scheme. MPI’s ETS forestry manager, Simon Petrie, said there is an application queue of 130,000ha of forest awaiting scheme approval as of June.

The recent move by the commission to recommend the government limit carbon units is partly due to concern that current ETS emissions prices will drive large-scale afforestation for sequestering carbon, rather than behaviour change to reduce emissions. . . 

Rural residents ropeable over lack of cellphone coverage – Rachel Graham :

Residents in Ladbrooks, a seven-minute drive from the edge of suburban Christchurch, say living in a cellphone coverage blackspot is annoying and dangerous.

Ladbrooks School, with its 150 pupils, sits in the centre of a semi-rural area with an increasing number of lifestyle blocks.

It also sits in the middle of a cellphone black spot.

Ladbrooks School principal Margaret Dodds said the lack of cellphone coverage was much more than an inconvenience. . . 

Bale-grazing experiment benefits cows and soil – Shawn McAvinue:

A grass and hay wintering system is showing promising results in Northern Southland.

AgResearch Invermay soil scientist Ross Monaghan is running a nearly $1 million project to explore whether dairy cows grazing on pasture in winter can reduce nitrogen leaching and mud compared with being on traditional forage crops.

The Soil Armour Project was launched in October 2020.

Experiment sites are live on a dairy farm on the Telford campus near Balclutha and Freedom Acres Dairy Farm at Wendonside. . . 

New Zealand’s pipfruit industry gathers in August for National conference :

More than 250 growers, suppliers, industry leaders and government officials from around the country will gather at the Rutherford Hotel in Nelson for the 2022 NZ Apples and Pears Inc (NZAPI) Conference.

The Conference will be held on Thursday 25 and Friday 26 August, with the industry AGM being held on Wednesday 24 August at 4pm. An ‘Agritech in the Orchard’ field day will be also be held on Wednesday 24 August, a collaboration between Callaghan Innovation and NZAPI.

The theme for the 2022 conference is ‘Adapting to New Horizons’. NZAPI CEO Terry Meikle says that two years on from the beginning of the pandemic, we have learned to modify and adapt to a new environment to ensure New Zealand pipfruit can continue to compete on the global stage, demand premiums and remain an industry exemplar.

“NZ is widely regarded as the best apple and pear producer in the world, but to retain that title, we must continue to adapt and innovate. The Conference will explore how we as an industry can meet and succeed in these new environments. . . 

Improving crop resilience with nanoparticles – Neil Savage:

Materials that can carry CRISPR gene-editing into plant cells could be key in the fight against global hunger.

There were sceptics when Michael Strano and his colleagues published their method for using nanoparticles to alter the biology of living plants (J. P. Giraldo et al. Nature Mater. 13, 400–408; 2014). In a letter to Nature Materials, one prominent plant scientist stated that the findings were wrong. “She wrote to the editor and said, ‘What these authors are proposing is not possible. We think they’re misinterpreting their data’,” Strano recalls.

But the chemical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in Cambridge, won over his critics, overturning an assumption that the membrane of the chloroplast — an organelle within plant cells that is responsible for photosynthesis — was impervious. “We had real-time video of particles going into this seemingly impenetrable chloroplast,” he says. The method, known as lipid exchange envelope penetration (LEEP), allows scientists to calculate where a nanoparticle will go to inside a cell — such as into the chloroplast or another organelle — or whether it will remain in the cytosol, the fluid that surrounds the organelles. This information can inform the design of nanoparticles that carry gene-editing machinery to targeted areas to rewrite the plant’s genome and imbue it with properties such as pest and disease resistance.

In particular, researchers are exploiting the CRISPR gene-editing system to engineer food crops that offer higher yields, or plants that produce compounds used in medications. The technology, for which Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier shared the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, allows specific stretches of DNA to be targeted for editing, deletion or replacement. . .

 


Rural round-up

12/08/2022

Specialised foot and mouth disease task established :

The Ministry for Primary Industries says a task force is ready to act if a foot and mouth disease is confirmed here.

Border officials in New Zealand and in Australia have been on alert since an outbreak of the disease was discovered in Indonesia, and more recently last month, in Bali.

The fear is that people returning from Indonesia will bring the disease back with them on their shoes, causing a widespread outbreak among cloven-hooved animals such as cows, pigs, sheep, goats and deer.

If an infection was confirmed here, meat exports – which are worth billions of dollars to the economy annually – would come to a stand still. . . 

‘Over the top’: new dam safety regulations cause stir – Tracie Barrett:

New dam safety regulations that take effect in 2024 have been called “over the top” by a high country farmer who says they are just more of the rules that farmers are being bombarded with.

Matakanui Station owner Andrew Paterson said the levels that made a dam classifiable under the new regulations had been set too low, and would entail a large expense for “small” dams that posed little threat.

On May 12, 2022, new regulations on dam safety were passed by the Government, which will come into effect on May 13, 2024.

This gives dam owners time to check whether their dam is big enough to be impacted. . . 

Dam plan on life support seeks jolt – David Williams:

Consents for a controversial Hawke’s Bay dam are set to be extended without public input, angering environmentalists. David Williams reports

In 2017, after a loss in the Supreme Court and $20 million of sunk costs shouldered by Hawke’s Bay ratepayers, the Ruataniwha dam proposal was declared dead.

But, to misquote Mark Twain, the dam’s death has been greatly exaggerated.

A group of businessmen bought the project’s intellectual property, including consents, from the council for $100,000, saying it would give the community time to revive the plan. . . 

 

Nailing a work-life balance – Shawn McAvinue:

The Fencing Contractors New Zealand national conference was held in Dunedin for three days last week. A topic at the industry event was how fencing contractors, dealing with a constantly changing environment, could manage their business and the wellbeing of themselves and their staff. Shawn McAvinue takes a close look.

Fencing day focuses on ‘me time’

“Have some me time” is the message Fencing Contractors Association New Zealand president Phil Cornelius is hammering home.

More than 100 people attended the Fencing Contractors Association national conference in Dunedin for three days last week. . . 

Organic Dairy Hub announce on-farm regenerative standard for its farmers  :

Waikato based organic co-operative, Organic Dairy Hub (ODH), is raising the bar for organic certified regenerative farming by introducing its new Honour Standard – outlining and defining its unique farming processes and ethos for its farmers.

The Honour Standard includes a declaration that It is our honour to be a family made up of organic farmer shareholders, highly skilled and passionate staff and a team of Directors that ensure our focus is on continuous improvement – for the betterment of our cows, our land and our people.

After undertaking extensive market research ODH recognised that consumers were seeing the word ‘regenerative’ in a lot of marketing but did not fully understand what it means and what is involved farm-side in the food production system.

ODH recognised this feedback and brought to life its Honour Standard to show consumers transparency and confidence in the dairy products it produces. ODH Business Development Manager, Hayley Denney, explains why the Honour Standard is important. . . 

UK farmers will be ‘negatively impacted’ with New Zealand trade deal :

New Zealand farmers will see far greater benefits compared to UK farmers after the post-Brexit trade deal was struck earlier this year, according to new analysis.

The report, published by the AHDB on Thursday (11 August), takes a detailed look for the first time at the potential implications of the New Zealand trade deal on UK agriculture.

The levy organisation’s analysis also considers the limited opportunities presented for UK agri-food products in New Zealand.

Working in collaboration with Harper Adams University, economic modelling was conducted of the impact of the new FTA on the UK and other major players. It used a trade network model to measure the impact of the deal. . .


Rural round-up

11/08/2022

A foot and mouth outbreak in NZ would affect more than agriculture – tourism needs a plan too – Stu Hayes:

Recent warnings of a “doomsday” scenario if foot and mouth disease (FMD) arrived in New Zealand inevitably singled out the agriculture sector. But overseas experience tells us FMD can also result in potentially severe impacts on the tourism sector.

As the 2001 FMD crisis in Britain highlighted, inadequate planning and crisis management can cause a reduction in trade, job losses and damage to a destination’s image.

This matters, because destination image is one of the leading factors influencing tourists’ decisions. Accurate or not, negative images in the media can directly affect demand.

As New Zealand ramps up preparations for a potential outbreak, important lessons from the UK’s experiences must be heeded if the local tourism sector is to avoid its own doomsday scenario. . . 

Science the key to our decisions – Barbara Kuriger:

“A set of principles shapes National’s primary sector decision-making,” says agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger.

Fresh from last weekend’s annual conference, she says: “The sector is currently worth $52 billion to New Zealand and growing. It underpins our economy.

“Certainty and confidence are what the sector needs from a government and that is what we intend to provide them,” she says.

“Technology is key to achieving emissions reductions, not taxing or banning things. . . 

Free health check initiative for farmers – Shawn McAvinue:

A third of the farmers who visited the launch of a new health check initiative were referred to see a doctor.

A van had been fitted out to allow a nurse to complete free health and wellness checks for the new Rural Health and Wellness Initiative.

Earlier this year, the initiative was launched by the Carr Family Foundation, founded by the Carr Family, who own agribusiness Carrfields.

In the back of a van, the nurse checks people’s blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and body mass index. . . 

Arable sector buoyed by 30 percent lift in production in three years :

New Zealand’s arable sector appears to be on a roll, with production increasing by 30 percent in the past three years.

Arable production includes wheat, barley and maize for humans and animals to eat and seeds for sowing.

Last year those farmers produced crops worth $1 billion and production and sales from the entire sector, including milling and further production, were worth $2b while more than 7500 people were employed.

The Arable Food Industry Council secretary Thomas Chin said arable producers flew below the radar but were vitally important to New Zealand’s economy, both locally and for exports. . . 

New campaign launches to attract more people into forestry careers :

A new recruitment campaign called ‘Find Your Fit In Forestry’ aims to draw attention to the varied career opportunities available in the growing forestry industry. A sector-wide initiative, the campaign has just launched and hopes to attract more young people into the industry and fill people shortages being felt throughout the sector.

Designed to demonstrate the huge range of roles and opportunities available in forestry, the mostly digital ‘Find Your Fit In Forestry’ campaign is primarily targeted at school leavers and young people.

Showcasing everything from machine operation, silviculture and harvest management to science-based roles and wood processing, the campaign attempts to match a candidate’s areas of interest with suitable jobs.

A range of videos have been created, featuring real people working in forestry. A digital platform has been created, that prompts people to answer a quick-fire survey about their interests, before suggesting the areas of forestry that might fit them best. . . 

Fast food took a gamble on fake meat. It’s not paying off – Ali Francis:

It was early 2022 and the world’s most profitable burger chain was finally rolling out a patty made of vegetables in hundreds of its stores. The pea, rice, and potato mixture mimicked the flavor and texture of its beefy brethren. Chains like Burger King and White Castle had done it before, but McDonald’s was the biggest. The McPlant was yet another mass-produced fake-meat burger lionized as a savior to the impending climate disaster—and, of course, an offering that could potentially lure more customers to stores. But the plant patty’s success depended on enough people actually wanting to eat it. Last week, a mere six months after launch, McDonald’s quietly ended its brief and underwhelming experiment.

The company’s first animal-free burger, which uses a fake beef patty from Beyond Meat, was made available in roughly 600 stores this past February to gauge customer demand. McDonald’s confirmed to CNBC last Thursday that the test concluded as planned, but neither the fast food giant nor Beyond Meat have since announced plans for a nationwide rollout—and Beyond Meat share prices fell 6% after the announcement. While the McPlant is apparently thriving in international markets like the U.K. and Austria, American customers were not about it, with some rural stores selling as few as three burgers a day.

So why was the McPlant such a McFlop? When products like Impossible and Beyond’s burgers hit shelves a few years ago, fast food was lauded as their ideal sales vehicle. Big chains could theoretically tap their low prices, ubiquity, and lab-manufactured addictiveness to sell fake meat convincing enough to overpower the American beef obsession. In reality, fast food restaurants were never going to be responsible for changing this country’s consumption habits based on moral, health, or prevent-the-environmental-apocalypse arguments. . . 


Rural round-up

02/08/2022

Warnings fees on utes could rise, after clean-car policy creates million-dollar funding gap -Thomas Coughlan:

Transport Minister Michael Wood will shortly review the cost of the fees and rebates in the Government’s “feebate” scheme after the runaway success of the policy has meant it is paying out millions more in rebates each month than it collects in fees.

Wood said he was reviewing the rates of fees and discounts “in the coming months” to make sure the scheme still worked, but added that no change would take effect until April 1 next year.

The clean-car discount is meant to encourage people to buy cleaner cars by offering a discount of up to $8625 from the price of an electric or low-emissions car. These discounts are paid for by fees of up to $5175 on dirtier cars. The Government said it would regularly review fee and discount levels when it announced the scheme.

The scheme is meant to be self-funding, but it could become a victim of its own success, paying out millions more in fees each month than it collects in revenue. This could mean fees going up or discounts going down when the scheme is reviewed in just a year’s time. . . 

Mt Somers farmer named B+LNZ deputy chairwoman – Tim Cronshaw:

Mt Somers farmer and businesswoman Kate Acland has been appointed deputy chairwoman of Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

The deputy role was re-established because of an increasing workload from so much change for farmers and it was expected to take some of the pressure off chairman Andrew Morrison.

Mr Morrison, who plans to seek re-election next year, said he was looking forward to Mrs Acland’s assistance.

“Kate has an excellent mix of rural expertise and business acumen to support us in achieving our strategic goals and objectives of helping farmers run thriving and profitable farm businesses.” . . . 

Sustainability ‘prominent’ at event – Shawn McAvinue:

Dunedin livestock scientist Jason Archer is making the most of the border reopening and has been discovering a new world shifting its focus to sustainability.

Dr Archer returned last month from a 12-day fact-finding trip to Canada and the United States.

The trip included a stop at the 54th Annual Beef Improvement Federation research symposium and convention in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

“Cowboy country.”

The conference focused on beef genetics of the leading breeding societies in the United States. . .

Applications open for prestigious 2023 Zanda McDonald Award programme:

Young agricultural professionals with passion and drive are being encouraged to apply for the most coveted prize of its kind in Australasian agribusiness.

The Zanda McDonald Award, open to Australian and New Zealand residents aged 21-35 working in agribusiness, provides unrivalled development opportunities for personal and professional growth.

One winner will be chosen from each country, with the successful recipients receiving a fully personalised education, training and mentoring package across both Australia and New Zealand, spending time with leaders across all areas of the primary sector.

“This award recognises and celebrates determined and passionate young Kiwis and Aussies with strong leadership skills, and the programme provides winners with opportunities that money simply cannot buy,” says Zanda McDonald Award chair Richard Rains. . .

Alliance announces new associate director :

Alliance Group has announced the appointment of Ross Bowmar as the 2022/23 associate director.

Raised in Southland where his parents still farm, Bowmar and his young family now own and operate Redcliffs Station, a high-country sheep and beef station in the Rakaia Gorge in Canterbury.

Running close to 8,500 stock units, Bowmar is balancing economic growth with environmental and social enhancement. Bowmar completed a Masters in Agriculture Economics at Michigan State University in the United States before spending 10 years with Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). . . .

Funds for GHG-fighting fungi – Business Desk:

The Government is spending $7.3 million over seven years in a programme intended to reduce agricultural greenhouse gases and nitrate leaching, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said.

The N-Vision NZ programme comprises: 

N-Retain – a new nitrification inhibitor technology that will look at new ways to block the biological processes in the soil that lead to nitrous oxide emissions and nitrate leaching.

N-Test – a new soil test to inform nitrogen fertiliser decisions on pastoral farms, which will help capitalise on the nitrogen already in soil organic matter.  . . 

 


Rural round-up

25/07/2022

Apple and kiwifruit growers tell thousands on jobseeker support during harvest: ‘we want workers’ – Gianina Schwanecke:

During peak harvest while apple growers across Hawke’s Bay were crying out for workers, there were up to 4000 people of working age on unemployment benefits in the region.

As the kiwifruit vines continued to ripen and the next harvest event rolled round a few weeks later, there were another 3000 across Bay of Plenty.

Ministry of Social Development figures detailthe number of working age people in Hawke’s Bay and Western Bay of Plenty on the Jobseeker Support Work Ready scheme between January 15 and May 15.

It found there were 4113 people on the scheme in Hawke’s Bay in January, dropping to 3684 by May. In Bay of Plenty, there were 3315 in January, dropping to 3177 by May. . . 

Fonterra”s McBride says changes to capital structure will ‘level the playing field’ – Tina Morrison:

Fonterra chairperson Peter McBride says relaxing requirements for farmers to hold shares in the co-operative would level the playing field with rival milk processors and increase competition.

The country’s largest dairy company wants to adopt a more flexible shareholding structure, allowing farmers to hold fewer shares and widening the pool to include sharemilkers, contract milkers and farm lessors as associated shareholders.

Its farmer suppliers voted in favour of the proposal in December last year, and the company is now waiting for the Government to approve the changes under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act which enabled the creation of the dairy giant in 2001.

Fonterra is re-shaping its business as a period of rapid expansion in the country’s dairy herd comes to an end as dairy farming faces increased regulation to reduce its environmental impact. . . 

Perception of wool changing amongst millennial consumers – research – The Country:

A three-year research study into the perceptions of wool has found efforts to build the industry’s sustainability credentials are transforming how millennial consumers perceive the fibre.

Industry experts say the perceptual change is removing significant barriers to the growth of the domestic and export wool markets.

The nationwide Bremworth study, which has tracked changes in attitudes over the past three years, also shows the perception of wool carpet as having a higher cost – when compared to synthetic alternatives – is becoming less of a barrier for most consumers.

While wool was once ubiquitous on the floors of Kiwi homes, over the past two decades synthetic flooring had become dominant in the market, chief executive of Bremworth Greg Smith said. . .

Forward thinking farmer ‘walking the talk’, embracing change – Shawn McAvinue:

The only thing certain in life is change and Southland farmer Kevin Hall wants to be part of it. Shawn McAvinue visits a field day to see how the Ballance Farm Environment Awards regional winner is continuing to  keep his dairy grazing and  beef-fattening business Hollyvale Farms sustainable.

Be part of the change.

In his closing speech on a field day on his farm last week, 2022 Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards winner Kevin Hall acknowledged the challenges ahead for farmers.

Farming was a “long-term career” requiring constant change to remain sustainable. . . 

Business management award for Mid-Canterbury farmer :

Mid-Canterbury farm manager Darryl Oldham has taken out the 2022 Rabobank Management Project Award, a business management prize for up-and-coming farmers.

Selected from a group of New Zealand’s most progressive farmers – graduates of the 2021 Rabobank Farm Managers Program (FMP) – Oldham was recognised for his business management project, which highlighted how he had utilised the lessons from the program in his role as farm manager on the 200ha farming operation he runs in partnership with his wife Anna, and parents Peter and Gael.

The Oldhams’ farming partnership is located in Westerfield near Ashburton. As the farm manager, Darryl is involved in all the day-to-day aspects of running the business which grows cereals, small seeds, peas, maize for silage, and fodder crops for finishing lambs.

Oldham says his management project assessed the viability of converting all or part of the farming operation to sheep milking. . . 

Life as a hobby farmer is not all I imagined in the winter of 2022 – Alison Mau:

My West Country grandad would have called it “letty weather” – rain so persistent you may as well just stay inside. Here on the hobby farm, I call it rainpocalypse; relentless, pitiless, unceasing rain that’s almost broken me this week.

I was once a pluviophile​. When I lived in the paved suburban world, there was nothing cosier than that rhythmic patter on the roof at bedtime. Rain was something you wanted for the roses (especially when the sprinkler was Council-banned) but didn’t otherwise think that much about.

I roll my eyes at that person, now. Last year, I moved to the sticks – one of those “Covid evacuees” who made a whole new and different life, albeit within a reasonable commute. Living on my own land has been my dream since I was six years old and we don’t often get to live our life-long dream, do we? And if not in the middle of a global pandemic, then when?

The dream’s been pretty sweet so far. The view is captivating, the community’s lovely, I bought a coffee machine. I rarely sit down during daylight hours. If I owned anything like a fit-bit, my step count would be off the charts. . . 


Rural round-up

02/06/2022

Rethink on GM policy needed – Richard Rennie:

John Caradus, scientist and chief executive of AgResearch’s commercial entity Grasslanz Technology, is pushing industry leaders, politicians and farmers to reconsider genetic modification (GM) as the primary sector grapples with the challenges of climate change, nutrient losses and disease. He spoke to Richard Rennie about his recent work reviewing GM globally.

There is a level of hypocrisy within New Zealand’s stance on genetically modified (GM) foods that does not sit well with John Caradus. 

He points out NZ consumers can shop for over 90 different GM foods produced from 10 plant species here, but NZ farmers are unable to grow any of them.

“We have a regulatory system that makes it extremely difficult for any entity considering doing so,” he says. . . 

Up to 6 week delay in cattle processing as meat works face backlog – Sally Murphy:

Processing capacity at meat works around the country is returning to normal but a backlog remains.

There had been a backlog for months due to staffing shortages as workers isolated with Covid-19.

That made it harder for farmers to offload stock, which caused huge stress, especially in areas where feed levels were tight.

An update provided to farmers by Beef and Lamb and the Meat Industry Association showed staff levels were now returning to normal and capacity from plant to plant was ranging from 80-100 percent. . . 

Keep driving innovation, meat sector leader says – Sally Rae:

Last week, Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva visited North Otago, the birthplace of New Zealand’s frozen meat industry. She talks to business and rural editor Sally Rae  about the state of the red meat sector.

It is time to celebrate.

That is the message from Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva to all levels of the red meat sector, from the farming community through to processors and other industry organisations.

Ms Karapeeva was in Oamaru last week for a function to mark National Lamb Day, the 140th anniversary of the first shipment of frozen New Zealand lamb arriving in the United Kingdom in 1882, and the centenary of the New Zealand Meat Board. . . 

Red meat exports achieve record April but markets prove volatile :

New Zealand red meat exports hit a record in April however ongoing volatility in China indicates head winds in the coming months, says the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

New Zealand exported products worth $999.6 million during the month of April, up 16 per cent on April 2021 with the value of overall exports increasing to most major markets.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA, said that while red meat exports continued to achieve good returns, there was some fluctuation in demand, particularly in China and the US.

“The value of overall exports to China was down six per cent year on year. There was also a small drop in the volume of both sheepmeat and beef exported. The reduction in sheepmeat was largely due to China, with beef exports to the US also dipping. . . 

Reaping rewards of maize crop – Shawn McAvinue:

In a bid to protect against the impact of dry conditions, a trial maize crop on a West Otago dairy farm will return next season and be more than twice the size.

Matt Haugh and his partner Kirsten McIntyre own Cottesbrook Dairy, milking 1450 cows across two platforms on about 470ha near Heriot.

Mr Haugh said pasture growth had been good for most of the summer but dry conditions started to bite in late summer and early autumn.

The dry conditions were an “absolute killer”, because the farm traditionally relied on rain at that time of year. . . 

NZ farmer wins world wood-chopping title – Carmelita Mentor-Fredericks:

How much wood could a Kiwi cut if a Kiwi could cut wood?

A lot – if Taumarunui sheep and beef farmer Jack Jordan and Tokoroa’s Cleveland Cherry’s performances at the Timbersports World Trophy event on Saturday in Vienna, Austria, is anything to go by.

However, it was Jordan who came out tops after taking on national champs, many of whom are lumberjacks from around the world, for the coveted title.

The competition, which is organised by Stihl France, sees 16 competitors take metal to wood as they face off using a variety of chopping tools to out chop each other – whoever chops the most wood in the least amount of time wins. . .


Rural round-up

25/03/2022

RUC reduction brings no relief for farm machinery users – Gerald Piddock:

The Government’s decision to cut road user charges (RUC) by 36% for three months is cold comfort for contractors and farmers using off-road vehicles that will not qualify for the exemption, Federated Farmers says.

The cut, which will take place from late April to late July, is in response to the spike in global fuel prices. Transport Minister Michael Wood said the change was to support the road transport industry.

For the arable industry, the reduction in charges is too late for this season, with much of the harvest already completed apart from harvesting maize grain, Federated Farmers transport spokesperson Karen Williams said.

On Williams’ own farm, fuel costs for the three months during peak harvest had almost doubled from $4000-$7000 a month in 2020 to $8000-$9500 a month this year. . . 

Omicron: ‘major impact’ on staff shortages as apple picking peaks  – Tom Kitchin:

Some orchardists say Covid-19 is running rampant through their harvest fields.

It is peak apple harvest time across the country – and Omicron is not showing any signs of slowing down in the two busiest apple harvest regions – Hawke’s Bay and Nelson-Tasman.

Hawke’s Bay grows over 4700 hectares of apples and Nelson-Tasman is second with about 2400.

Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrower’s Association chair Brydon Nisbett also runs his own 16-hectare two-orchard apple operation. . . 

Bacteria corralled for quality food outcomes – Richard Rennie:

AgResearch principal scientist Dr Eric Altermann admits he has a dream to see a charcuterie of uniquely New Zealand meats and salamis, along with fermented dairy and plant products on the market someday soon. Richard Rennie spoke to him on how his and his team’s work on fermented foods will make that a reality.

Over the past four and a half years AgResearch’s Fermented Foods research team has managed to slice through tens of thousands of evolved bacterial strains to find those with traits most suited to enhancing the flavour and texture of meat, dairy, and plant fermented food types.

The tool that has enabled them to accelerate the natural process of genetic change, which would otherwise have been an almost impossibly time-consuming and frustrating process, has been a high-throughput robotics handling and assaying (screening) platform, developed by AgResearch principal scientist Dr Eric Altermann and his team. 

“The platform’s technology allows us to take bacteria, subject them to rapid genetic evolution using sources such as UV light and then identify those evolved variants which exhibit a positive change towards the desired traits,” Altermann said.  . . 

Awakiki Ridges owners clearing out for retirement – Shawn McAvinue:

A couple of teenage sweethearts are looking forward to retirement on their sheep and beef farm in South Otago.

Howie and Marion Gardner (both 66) will hold a clearing sale on their farm Awakiki Ridges in Puerua Valley tomorrow.

Awakiki Ridges has come a long way since his parents, Clyde (now 93) and his late mother, Beth, bought the land and started developing it in the mid-1960s.

The property was once considered “the worst bit of dirt in South Otago,” Mr Gardner said. . . 

Sharing enthusiasm for red meat sector – Shawn McAvinue:

Maniototo man Dean Sinnamon’s new job allows him to pursue his passion for the red meat sector.

Mr Sinnamon, of Oturehua, started in a new role at Beef + Lamb New Zealand in January this year.

His job title is Central South Island South extension manager.

“It’s a bit of a mouthful, isn’t it?” . . 

China tariffs causes Victorian harvest to tank Annabelle Cleeland:

The 2.1-billion litres of unsold Australian wine sitting in storage is wreaking havoc on Victoria’s grape harvest this season, as a storage shortage forces growers to leave grapes on vines.

Last year the nation’s wine exports plummeted $860 million, or 30 per cent, due to China’s crippling tariffs on bottled Australian wine.

China’s anti-dumping duty introduced the last march of up to 218pc for containers of two litres or less, and is set to remain in place for five years.

It has been a blow for the industry with Australia’s wine exports the lowest in nearly two decades, as the volume of wine sent overseas dropped 17pc to 619-million litres in 2021. . . 


Rural round-up

01/02/2022

Fears harvests will rot as farmers denied skilled workers :

Warnings from our farmers that some of their crops could be left to rot this harvest, resulting in low supply or price hikes for some of our supermarket staples like bread.

They’re struggling without 200 skilled harvest machinery operator workers they were promised from overseas and say it’s because the Government dragged its feet on allowing them in on time.

The Turleys grow enough on their South Canterbury farm to make more than 15 million loaves of bread.

The wheat might well be ready, but their harvesters and heavy machinery sit idle. . . 

Contractors reach out to dairy companies for staff lifeline – Gerald Piddock:

Farming leaders have contacted the dairy industry to see whether its milk tanker drivers can switch to operating combines and tractors as a solution to the dire shortage of drivers the contracting industry is facing.

Federated Farmers and Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) have co-signed a letter to Dairy Companies of New Zealand (DCANZ) with the proposal to see if it is feasible.

“Given the number of experienced truck drivers and machinery operators employed by the various dairy companies, we ask you to consider the possibility of the dairy companies releasing some of these operators to work for agricultural contractors for the peak of the harvest,” the letter said.

“We appreciate how unorthodox this proposal is, but we must consider all employment options in this highly challenging time. Alongside delivering the critical workload that our farmers need, we believe there is a considerable benefit in the farming community seeing the organisations they rely on working together.” . . 

 

Daughter adds new strand to enterprise – Sally Rae:

A young Southland woman is combining her family’s more than century-long wool-growing experience with her own qualifications and passion for the farming sector to launch a business. She talks to business and rural editor Sally Rae.

All things being equal, Kate Macdonald should have been living it up in London.

But the intervention of a global pandemic eventually turned the proverbial curse into a blessing for the young Southland woman.

On Saturday, Miss Macdonald (25) is launching Davaar & Co, taking wool from her long-established family property Davaar Station, near Te Anau, and producing homespun-style woollen jerseys, in a farm-to-fashion process with each step being done in New Zealand. . . 

Big changes for new Rotary president – Ashley Smyth:

Incoming Oamaru Rotary Club president Sven Thelning says he gets more out of his involvement with the charity than he puts in.

A career move from managing a dairy farm to concentrating on building what was a side-hustle of working in agricultural compliance into a full-time business will allow him more time and flexibility for the role, which begins in July.

‘‘That’s given me the opportunity to hopefully free up a bit of time to commit to the president role at Rotary,’’ Mr Thelning said.

‘‘I’ve been doing other roles like secretary, which I’ve been able to do fairly remotely, and doesn’t have quite the same commitment as the president role. . . 

Dry autumn trims numbers for lamb sale – Shawn McAvenue:

A bumper season is producing healthy lambs but numbers at a sale were down due to a dry autumn, a Taieri farmer says.

Lo-Debar Station co-owner Tim Howie offered about 1600 lambs — a mix of Perendale and Texel cross — on his more than 400ha farm in Hindon last week.

He had hoped to have more lambs on sale but last year was “a b…… of a season”.

The biggest challenge on the farm, about 20km north of Outram, was a drought due to a dry autumn but he remained philosophical . . 

Known for merino knowledge now an artist – Stephen Burns:

The journey from ramshed to artists studio might be thought a long one – but in Stu Hodgson’s case, it was just one more step through what has been a most interesting and rewarding career.

That he now devotes his spare time to painting landscapes – and more recently seascapes – has surprised many of his friends but his late maturing interest in art has been encouraged by wife Libby, and daughters Will, Emma and Prue. 

Stu Hodgson is well known in the Merino industry from the time he was a jackaroo on Tom Culley’s famed Wonga stud, Jerilderie and through his subsequent career as sheep classer and sheep industry specialist with Australian Wool Innovation (AWI)

But it was the wider social restrictions bought on by Covid which decided him to pick up his brushes and record some of the many fascinating landscapes he has seen during his travels. . . 


Rural round-up

20/01/2022

24-hour Shear-a-thon to raise money for hospital – Shawn McAvinue:

The rural sector is uniting again to help those battling cancer in the South.

Shear 4 Blair 24-hour Shear-a-thon will run in the woolshed on Wohelo Station in Moa Flat on February 5 and 6.

The event is to raise money for the Southland Charity Hospital in Invercargill, which was established in 2019.

Winton man Blair Vining died of bowel cancer in 2019, after calling for cancer care to be equitable for all New Zealanders. . . 

Horticulture industry using fund to support growers impacted by Tonga eruption –

New Zealand’s horticulture and wine industries are calling for donations to support Tonga after the volcanic eruption.

The horticulture industry labour collective, made up of NZ Apples & Pears, NZ Kiwifruit Growers, Summerfruit NZ, NZ Wine, NZ Ethical Employers, and HortNZ, said it was saddened by news of the tsunami and its impact.

It aims to help the Tongan economy recover and is using the Growers Relief Fund to collect donations to support small businesses like market gardens to recover.

The fund is a charity that helps to support growers in an adverse event, with wellness or when additional support is needed. The fund also helps people working in the horticulture industry who need assistance, to help nurture the whole horticultural community. . . 

Mature lowland forest lost in Wānaka fire – DOC :

A popular Wānaka lake and track were spared during a devastating fire earlier this month.

The fire took hold on 9 January at Emerald Bay, burning 280 hectares of land and taking four days to contain.

The Department of Conservation said it was too early to know the full extent of the damage to conservation land.

Its Central Otago Pou Matarautaki/operations manager Nikki Holmes, said Diamond Lake and the Rocky Summit Track were untouched. . .

Beekeepers hoping for good flow – Tim Cronshaw:

Beekeepers hope a sluggish start won’t put the brakes on honey flows this year.

They want to avoid a repeat of the 2020-21 season when national honey production was down 24% to 20,500 tonnes, from a much better summer.

The average honey yield fell then to 25kg per hive.

Apiculture NZ chief executive Karin Kos said a late-flowering and cold and windy start has failed to assist beekeepers so far this season. . . 

A secret getaway to Mototapu track – Liz Carlson:

Perhaps the closest backcountry hut near the popular outdoor playground of Wanaka is one that you might not have heard of – Fern Burn Hut. Tucked away on a lush high-country station, it is the first stage in a three-day tramp connecting Wanaka and Arrowtown, which retraces a historic path in Central Otago.

An enjoyable day walk to the modern hut, it’s a great way to experience the beauty of the area, though it’s even better if you stay the night in one of the 12 bunks.

Most people walk the 34-kilometre Motatapu Track over three days, though the day trips and overnight at one of the huts are equally enjoyable. From Wanaka to Fern Burn Hut is only 7km and a couple of hours winding up and down over the beautiful land.

The track begins near Glendhu Bay in Wanaka, making it one of the closest and easily accessed huts from the town, and a great alternative to the busy alpine huts in summer  – you’ll often have the place to yourself. . . 

Going the distance:

Getting fast broadband to rural areas of New Zealand is the last great challenge for the country’s Internet network.

Former Prime Minister Sir John Key said last week one of the top achievements of his time in government was Ultra-Fast Broadband. The roll-out of fibre arrived in time to be a vital help for communities during Covid lockdowns and is now an essential service for all kinds of social and economic reasons.

But he said he was concerned about the rural/urban divide with a number of people unable to get access to fibre Internet.

Luckily there is already a solution for many rural properties as New Zealand’s wireless internet providers, or WISPS, are working to link users with quality broadband and which have been building their own networks to do this. . . 


Rural round-up

11/12/2021

Tim Ritchie – iconic meat industry leader dies – Peter Burke:

A man who dedicated his whole working life to the meat industry died suddenly on December 5.

Tim Ritchie, 71, made an outstanding contribution in his many roles in the industry over more than 40 years working for Government, the private sector and the Meat Industry Association and its predecessor, the Freezing Companies Association.

After completing a Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree in marketing and economics at Lincoln University, Ritchie embarked on a wide ranging international career in the red meat sector. He started off at Treasury but then moved to Towers International and then to Waitaki International, both in NZ and overseas. Ritchie told Rural News just after his retirement last year that working for Waitaki in London was the highlight of his career

“There as a 30 something year-old my job was to manage the Waitaki operation in the UK and Europe,” he said. . .

It’s time to imagine New Zealand without production animals – Jacqueline Rowarth:

It’s time to imagine New Zealand without production animals. Anti-farming lobbyistsprobably don’t mean this to be the outcome of their activities, but outcomes are difficult to predict, even when the predictor is an expert in the appropriate discipline.

Lobbyists are experts at getting noticed in the media. The negative coverage of agriculture this month has been extraordinary. Anybody who has read the press, listened to the radio, watched the television or gone to a cinema would be forgiven for thinking that New Zealand is an environmental cot case.

The reality is that pre-Covid, tourists rated the environment at the top of New Zealand’s attractions. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has the data. The reality is also that without dairy, beef and sheep, New Zealanders would not have a first-world and flourishing economy. . . 

Fonterra are farmers under ‘enormous pressure’ – Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra chairman Peter McBride has acknowledged that despite the co-op’s improved performance, many shareholders feel under enormous pressure.

He says the rate of change on-farm, Covid, labour shortages and environmental reforms have pushed many farmers into protest, and others out of the industry.

He told Fonterra’s annual general meeting in Invercargill today that some of that change is being driven by regulation.

“More so, it is being driven by consumer, customer and community expectations,” he says. . .

Another day at the office for Pip – Simon Edwards:

Is this one of the best rural photos of the year (even decade)?

It was snapped earlier this week by Pahiatua farmer and Federated Farmers member Nick Perry and has already been seized on by media as a compelling shot.

This is how Nick described what happend:

While crossing a culvert on farm I heard a bleat from beneath me and thought ‘bother there’s a lamb in there’. Knowing full well extracting the lamb might involve getting wet I put off the decision until later in the day. But the bleat was still emanating from the culvert that evening so I selected my two most experienced working dogs, a huntaway and a heading dog, and explained the situation to them. . .

Family living the dream on beef farm – Shawn McAvinue:

An East Otago egg farming family is giving cropping and cattle finishing a crack in the Maniototo.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand ran a field day at Rotherwood, a 737ha beef and cropping farm near Ranfurly, last week.

The farm is owned by the Winmill family — Jeff and Aileen and their children Nina and Ben.

Jeff Winmill, standing on the steps of the homestead, told more than 80 people at the event, about the purchase and transformation of the farm. . . 

Ag records to tumble for Aussie farmers – Liv Casben:

It’s set to be a record breaking year for Australian farmers thanks to strong growing conditions and high global prices according to a report from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

If forecasts are realised, Australia’s agricultural production will reach a record $78 billion in 2021/22, with the most valuable winter crop ever expected worth $22.3 billion.

Meanwhile agricultural exports are also likely to hit a record $61 billion.

ABARES executive director Jared Greenville said the good results are expected to be enjoyed across livestock and cropping, with 30-year price highs being experienced. . . 


Rural round-up

26/10/2021

Costs wave to break over farming – Hugh Stringleman:

A one-and-a-half percent rise in interest rates over the next year will be a large component of rapidly rising on-farm inflation.

After a decade of low interest rates, the forecast increase in the Official Cash Rate (OCR) from 0.5% to 2% looks set to increase the interest portion of debt servicing by as much as one-third.

For individual farmers, the added interest cost will be dependent on total indebtedness and their mixture of fixed and floating rates.

The most recent Federated Farmers banking survey said the average farm mortgage rate was 3.8% and the average farm debt, across all types, was $4.3 million. . .

Peak milk underway in second Covid-affected season – Gerald Piddock:

Fonterra is facing its second consecutive season where peak milk collection is affected by covid-19.

The co-operative is expecting to process 80 million litres a day over the next few months, while at the same time keeping its 12,000 staff nationwide safe from the virus.

Fonterra chief operating officer Fraser Whineray says the co-operative had been working through a lot of management and business continuity plans to deal with covid while ensuring it was able to process the volumes coming through the factory.

“They are dynamic and they change because the environment changes,” Whineray said. . .

Shearing  his passion for six decades – Shannon Thomson:

Shearing — both the industry and the sport — has been a lifetime love for New Zealand Merino Shearing Society life member Graeme Bell.

A wool classer and master woolhandler, Mr Bell has been involved with shearing since the Merino Shears began in Alexandra in 1961.

He was 10.

Growing up in the centre of Alexandra, he did not come from farming stock, but as a young boy the lifesyle of the local shearers caught his eye. . .

Getting broadband to everyone – Mike Smith:

Recent episodes of Fair Go have highlighted the difficulties a number of rural people have in getting access to quality, reliable broadband and how tough this makes their lives.

Businesses can’t operate without a solid connection, kids can’t be educated from home when required, and life is just harder for everyone.

As chair of WISPA-NZ, which represents specialist internet providers who look after many rural users, I understand why having access to the Internet is now a vital part of everyday life.

The 37 companies that make up our group are all specialists in using wireless internet technology to get to the places phone cable and fibre don’t reach. . . 

Farmers urged to plan for dry summer – Shawn McAvine:

Farmers are being encouraged to plan ahead in the event of another dry summer.

Otago Rural Support Trust trustee and Otago Drought Recovery Committee member Amy Francis said the trust formed the committee after a drought was declared in Otago in April this year.

Her sheep and beef farm in Five Forks had been dry.

Recent rain had been ‘‘amazing’’ but the soil lacked moisture. . .

Country diary: My first sheep auction since Covid is an emotional one – Andrea Meanwell:

In my quest to buy some Swaledale gimmer lambs, I’m reminded that farmers in their 50s are considered youngsters.

As I walk through the double doors and into the auction, the smell of sheep and sawdust makes me feel suddenly emotional. During Covid I missed going to sales, missed chatting to other farmers and just being in a busy place with other people.

Today is one of the biggest sales of the year, the Swaledale and Rough Fell draft ewe sale at Kendal auction. Traditionally sheep were “drafted” off the fells after about four lambings, and sold to other farmers with better land for the remainder of their lives. While there are plenty of draft ewes here, there are also sheep of all ages from all over the Lake District.

I don’t really need to buy any sheep, but I have agreed with my son, whom I farm in partnership with, that should I see some Swaledale gimmer lambs I like, we can pay up to £70 each for them. We have calculated that at £70 they are affordable. Some people like to go to shopping centres for their retail therapy; I go to sheep auctions. . .

 


Rural round-up

24/10/2021

Stop carbon farming! :

Beef+Lamb NZ says current Government policies will see too much carbon forestry planted and urgent change is needed.

Last week, Climate Change Minister James Shaw released a discussion paper aimed at helping shape NZ’s emissions reduction plan. BLNZ says the paper contains a slight shift in how the Government is talking about the role of carbon-only exotic forestry in addressing climate change.

“We welcome the Government’s recognition that fossil fuel emissions must be reduced, rather than continually offset,” says chief executive Sam McIvor.

“The discussion document indicates any decision on changing the ETS rules would come by the end of 2022. We’re concerned that’s not fast enough given the scale and pace of land conversion happening.” . .

Water entity concerns run deep – Andrew Hoggard:

Federated Farmers joins the many council-elected representatives and citizens up and down the country urging the Government to go back to the drawing board on reform of its three waters delivery.

It’s clear that billions of dollars of investment are needed to get drinking water, stormwater and sewerage infrastructure up to scratch. However, there are too many flaws and question marks over the proposed four new mega entities for the Government to just press ahead.

A range of deep concerns with the proposed model have been raised in the provinces, chief among them the risk rural voices and needs will be swamped in the enlarged set-ups. Right now we have a direct say in the appropriate level of investment and priorities for water infrastructure via our local council.

If our elected representatives don’t deliver, we can eject them at election time – and they know it. . . 

Farming the future – trading on animal welfare and emissions not tariffs – Hugh Campbell:

This week’s NZ-UK free trade agreement helps unveil what the future holds for New Zealand farming as the sector becomes increasingly diverse, in the final of our three-part series on rural politics

There is a lot of history to live up to in the current moment of farmer politics in New Zealand. Understanding the sheer scope and breadth of pastoral farming power through much of the 20th century provides the essential backdrop for understanding the current moment of farmer protests in 2021.

But we are in the midst of a massive transition away from a time in which pastoral farmers were in total control of their own futures and had unfettered access to the machinery of government. Farmers haven’t lost their power in New Zealand, but it is sometimes a bit opaque as to how that power is becoming re-aligned. . .

Alliance to announce rise in trading profit – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group will post an increased trading profit when it announces its full-year financial results later this year, chief executive David Surveyor says.

Last year, the company had an underlying profit of $27.4 million for the year ended September 30 which, when adjusted for one-off events (donning and doffing), brought it down to $7.5 million before tax.

Addressing a virtual supplier roadshow yesterday, Mr Surveyor said the issue all year was not about the ability to sell but about shipping product.

Supply chains had been ‘‘greatly disrupted’’ due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and global supply chain issues had become the new normal. . .

Wool overtaking synthetic for carpet – Shawn McAvinue:

The tide is turning for the sales of woollen carpet, a Southern retailer says.

A national roadshow about a proposed merger between Wools of New Zealand and Primary Wool Co-operative made its final stops in the South last week.

The companies have been getting New Zealand strong wool from its shareholding farmers made into carpet in Turkey, which had been on sale at Flooring Xtra shops in New Zealand for a couple of months.

Alexandra and Cromwell Flooring Xtra owner Paul Rillstone spoke at the roadshow stop in Lawrence. . .

WA’s Cara Peek named Rural Woman of the Year

Cara Peek, a Broome-based lawyer, social innovator and co-founder of Saltwater Country, has been named the 2020 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award National Winner for her work in driving employment opportunities for First Nations people in remote Australia.

Cressida Cains, artisan cheesemaker and a passionate dairy industry advocate from New South Wales was announced as the award’s National Runner Up.

Due to COVID-19, the national Rural Women’s Award ceremony was postponed last year. . . 

 


Rural round-up

13/10/2021

Pomahaka work celebrated – Shawn McAvinue:

The Pomahaka River was once the dirtiest waterway in Otago but a ‘‘trailblazing’’ rural community is uniting to improve it.

About 70 people attended a celebration of the Pomahaka Corridor Planting Project reaching the milestone of putting about 100,000 riparian plants in the ground.

The celebration was at Leithen Picnic Area, on the banks of the Pomahaka River about 10km northwest of Tapanui in West Otago.

Pomahaka Water Care Group project manager Lloyd McCall, of Tapanui, said the river was once deemed the dirtiest in Otago. . .

Efforts ramp up to attract workers to vineyards – Maja Burry:

Efforts to try and recruit New Zealanders to work on vineyards for the 2022 harvest are already ramping up as winemakers look to front a labour shortage.

The challenge of finding skilled staff has been intensified by the Covid-19 border restrictions, with fewer overseas workers in the country.

In Marlborough, one of New Zealand’s winegrowing regions, it was estimated about 1200 people are needed to harvest the 2022 vintage, which usually kicked into gear in early March.

Marisco Vineyards general manager Matt Mitchell said the business had started looking for cellar hands, wine press operators, flotation technicians and forklift drivers more than four months in advance . .

Rural NZ urged to take the lead:

National Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger is urging rural Kiwis to get out and get vaccinated, if they haven’t already, on Saturday.

“Many of our rural industry sectors have been devastated by the challenges of COVID-19, especially tourism and hospitality, and there is no end in sight,” she says.

“Farmers and their teams have been busy doing their own thing, but we’re at the end of calving and lambing. Now is the time for them to ensure that they and their families, as well as their staff, are protected.” . .

Stock agent retiring after 50 years – Shawn McAvinue:

A Southern livestock agent is calling time on career of more than 50 years and will celebrate with a ginger beer on his final day this Friday.

PGG Wrightson agent Mike Broomhall, of Otautau, said the retirement date was chosen because it allowed him to work at Rodney and Jocelyn Dobson’s annual Jersey bull sale in Western Southland last week.

‘‘I was with Rodney for his first sale.’’

Mr Broomhall was born in Kaikoura and raised in Christchurch. . .

Sunflowers a rotational crop option for New Zealand growers :

Growing sunflowers to produce hi-oleic oil could provide additional income for New Zealand growers as a rotational crop during the summer period, new research has found.

The Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) has concluded a three-year project looking at crop options to raise profitability and provide alternative land uses. The project received $90,000 through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI’s) Sustainable Farming Fund (now superseded by the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund). High-oleic varieties of sunflowers were identified as a promising crop.

“Our research shows we have the conditions in New Zealand for successful sunflower crops, with yield potential in excess of 4.5 tonnes per hectare,” says Ivan Lawrie, FAR’s General Manager Business Operations. . .

Best-practice Southland organic dairying portfolio for sale:

One of the largest scaled organic dairying portfolios in the Southern Hemisphere has been placed on the market for sale, providing sustainability options for astute buyers.

Spread across the Southland region, the Aquila Sustainable Farming portfolio has an amalgamated farm footprint of 2,971 hectares across six productive organic dairy units and 871 hectares from two leased organic support blocks.

The properties have a high-standard of farm infrastructure and improvements, including 27 homes. . .

 


Rural round-up

12/10/2021

Reflective farming regenerates –  Sandra Taylor:

Canterbury’s Inverary Station has scrutinised its beef and sheep business with  outstanding results.  Sandra Taylor paid a visit to find out more.   

John Chapman calls it reflective farming.

The process examines every aspect of his hill country farming business, pulling it apart bit-by-bit to find the key to enabling the farm to reach its productive potential.

“If we look at our farms carefully enough, they have a lot that they are willing to tell us.” . . 

Pāmu ponders restrictions for unvaccinated staff – Maja Burry:

The state owned farmer Pāmu has said it may need to look at putting in place some restrictions for unvaccinated staff in the future.

Pāmu, formerly Landcorp, owns or operates about 110 farms around New Zealand. It has 647 employees including farmers, growers, marketers, supply chain managers and business experts.

Company spokesperson Simon King told RNZ while it did not have a view on the mandating of vaccines, it was aware there could be future issues on all farms, including Pāmu’s, with unvaccinated staff.

“In particular, the ability to operate farms if unvaccinated staff become infected and have to isolate, or if suppliers start to refuse to uplift product from farms with unvaccinated workers,” King said. . .

From ewe to you – Kirwee farmers launch new sheep milk poroducts :

A child with food allergies and dairy intolerance has led a Canterbury couple to start milking sheep.

Matt and Tracey Jones were so impressed by the difference sheep milk made for their daughter they embarked on their new venture and have since created a skincare range using the milk. The farming couple are about to unveil a range of bottled pasteurised milk and farm-made cheese.

The Jones milk about 600 sheep on the property. Just across from the milking platform they have built a milk processing and cheese-making factory.

Farm manager Juan Cavallotti is also the head cheesemaker. . .

Tulip tours in doubt but beauty assured – Shawn McAvinue:

An annual tour of the tulip fields will wilt this year if Southland remains in Alert Level 2, an event organiser says.

Tulip grower Triflor NZ was set to open its colourful fields in Edendale to thousands of people on Labour Day.

However, tour co-ordinator Jean Kirby, of Seaward Downs, said the event would only proceed if the South was in Level 1.

A final decision would be made on October 18, Mrs Kirby said. . . 

Kāpiti and Wairarapa sweep NZ Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards:

Kāpiti and Wairarapa Olive Oil makers have swept the annual New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards, winning all of the five major awards for Olive Oil Excellence.

The New Zealand Olive Oil Awards began in 2000 and recognise excellence in New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oils (NZ EVOO). The winners were announced tonight at the Olives NZ 2021 Award Ceremony.

The top awards were as follows: . . 

Rubia Gallega, the new premium beef coming to fine-dining restaurants – Warwick Long:

Tall, strong, cinnamon to orange in colour and a “nice sexy name” are the attributes of an animal that a beef industry pioneer believes will be the latest thing on the menu at Australia’s best restaurants.

The new breed of cattle is David Blackmore’s “retirement” plan. He was the mastermind behind premium Wagyu cattle in Australia.

Mr Blackmore’s Wagyu meat, grown on farms in north-east Victoria has sold for more than $500 per kilogram and appeared on luxury menus around Australia and the world, including in the home of Wagyu, Japan.

His latest project is a breed of cattle that he has imported into Australia called, Rubia Gallega. . . 


Rural round-up

01/10/2021

Ball dropped! – Rural News:

For more than a year now the primary sector has been crying out for changed around immigration settings to help ease numerous critical worker shortages right across the country’s key export earning industries.

The Government and immigration officials have badly dropped the ball on this issue – with the entire country is paying for their incompetence.

There is no doubt that things have been complicated by Covid-19 and the ongoing restrictions this has placed on allowing people into the country. However, governments are elected – and officials employed and well paid – to come up with solutions to such problems. Yet the piecemeal, ad-hoc, minimal changes made by both in this area are a national disgrace.

For starters, Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi has been completely MIA – that’s ‘missing in action’, not the Meat Industry Association, which is probably keen to chat to him on immigration issues, as is the rest of the primary sector. He is clearly either out of his depth or not interested and the Prime Minister should have relieved him of the portfolio months ago. One suspects that because her caucus has all the depth of the bird bath, and any capable minister is already overloaded, there is no one with the talent to manage or oversee this highly challenging role. . .

Catchment groups need to be farmer-led – Jessica Marshall:

Catchment projects need to be farmerled, according to Louise Totman, who coordinates the Rangitikei Rivers Catchment Collective.
Totman says the decision to join the collective needs to be a farmer-led initiative on behalf of the sub-catchment group.

The Rangitikei collective is an umbrella for 17 sub-catchment groups, covering 700,000ha across the Rangitikei, Turakina, and Whangaehu river catchments. Recently it received $910,000 in Government funding.

“We don’t do a big push to get these groups up and running,” she told Dairy News. . . 

Old dogs finding a new home – Shawn McAvinue:

A North Otago teacher is giving retired working dogs a second chance at life.

Waitaki Boys’ High School agriculture teacher Elizabeth Prentice adopted her dog Meg after seeing her listed on the website of Retired Working Dogs.

Before retiring, the pig dog worked in pest control around the world, including Bali and Canada.

Her former owner lives in Ashhurst, near Palmerston North, and loved Meg, she said. . . 

Radical dog biscuits the cherry on top – Ashley Smyth:

There is a saying, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but after turning to pet food production after 50 years of farming, John Newlands may beg to differ. He talks to Ashley Smyth about how Radical Dog started, how it is going and where it is heading.

When it comes to food for dogs, Radical Dog could be the pick of the crop.

The dog biscuits are made using Montmorency tart cherries and are the brainchild of John and Maureen Newlands, of Incholme, near Maheno.

In the late 1980s, the couple were considering options to integrate something different into their farming business which used their irrigation more efficiently, and they wanted grow something high yielding and profitable, within a small land area.

 

Auckland BioSciences buys Australia’s CellSera, creating $40m firm – Chris Keall:

In a pandemic year that has seen so many New Zealand tech firms bought by offshore rivals, Auckland BioSciences (ABS) has bucked the trend by acquiring Australia’s CellSera.

ABS manufactures and exports New Zealand-made serum and plasma, derived from the blood of cows, pigs and sheep, sourced from meat processing plants around NZ.

Animal serum is a key ingredient for cell culture in bio-pharmaceutical manufacturing and is used in medical research and in the manufacture of human and veterinary products such as vaccines and other biological preparations, ABS says.

The global cell culture market is expected to reach US$36 billion by 2027, according to one market researcher. . . 

Allbirds 2.0? Woolies seeks crowdfund to take ‘NZ Made’ merino jeans worldwide :

Auckland-based jeans company Woolies Jeans will launch an equity crowdfunding campaign on 4 October to fund their international launch

Started in 2018 by Jovian Garcia Cummins, Woolies Jeans was created in a woolshed, where a then 22 year old Jovian, became fed up with the workwear he was wearing – and thus enlisted his mother to help create his first pair of jeans made with comfortable merino lining and protective denim exterior.

“I’m excited to share my invention with the world because I’ve been making these jeans for mates in exchange for some beers, but want to hire some smart hardworking kiwis to help really get this thing going and start shipping worldwide,” says the enthusiastic entrepreneur. . . 


Rural round-up

28/09/2021

Fear forestry conversions impacting farming communities – Shawn McAvinue:

A Swiss company has been given consent to buy a nearly 500ha farm in South Otago for forestry conversion.

The Overseas Investment Office has approved the sale of the farm in Hillend, about 20km north of Balclutha, to 100% Switzerland-owned company Corisol New Zealand Ltd.

Corisol paid the vendors — Alistair Lovett, Mark Tavendale and A R Lovett Trustees — $4.8million for the farm, which in the consent was described as a breeding and finishing unit.

The consent states Corisol intends to subdivide and sell about 71ha of land and its dwellings and covert about 400ha to commercial forestry. . . 

Charity funding rural counselling – Mary-Jo Tohill:

It is something of a misnomer to think because farmers are used to isolation, that things such as lockdowns do not affect them the same as other people.

“I think this would be particularly true of South Island farmers,” Will to Live founder Elle Perriam said.

Her mental health charity has just launched the RuralChange initiative to fund counselling sessions for rural people of all ages.

Ms Perriam did a Young Farmers online event recently with well-known farming personalities Tangaroa Walker (Farm4Life) and Kane Briscoe (FarmFitNZ). . . 

 

The schemes and drams over reducing cow methane – The Detail:

Millions of dollars is being spent on getting cows and sheep to produce less gas.

The projects in train range from genetics experiments, using seaweed in burp-free feed, and toilet-training cows. Some of it sounds ridiculous – but the animals produce methane, and New Zealand must do something urgently on reducing the amounts our agricultural industry is contributing to global warming.

Farmers argue that the country’s sheep and cows are the lowest methane emitters in the world but nearly half our total greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture.

These schemes are aimed at doing enough to get farms to our targets – by 2030 biogenic methane emissions should be cut by 10 percent on 2017 levels. By 2050 the goal is for methane emissions to be 24 to 47 percent lower than they were in 2017. . . 

Technology behind Covid wastewater testing helping farmers identify disease in herd :

A new test detects whether the bacteria responsible for Johne’s disease is present in a farm’s effluent wastewater.

The same technology used to detect Covid-19 in wastewater is now being used to help dairy farmers manage Johne’s disease in their herd, a contagious infection estimated to cost New Zealand more than $40 million in lost production each year.

Johne’s disease is caused by a bacterium which infects the gut of dairy cows and other ruminant animals. Common side effects include lower milk production, difficulty reproducing and rapid weight loss. . . 

Synlait Milk reports ‘largest ever’ loss of $28.5m :

South Island dairy company Synlait Milk has posted its forecast loss as it was hit by disruptions for its major customer, but predicted a return to “robust” profitability this year.

Key financial highlights

(compared to previous financial year)

  • Net loss $28.5m vs profit $74.3m
  • Revenue $1.37bn vs $1.30bn
  • Full year payout $7.82 vs $7.30
  • Forecast 2022 payout $8.00/kilo of milk solids

Synlait’s loss was at the top end of its forecast range of $20m-$30m as it bore the cost of sharp fall in orders for infant formula from its major customer A2 Milk.

Huge boost for local growers as Genoese Pesto moves to source all basil in NZ:

New Zealand’s number one pesto retail brand has moved to source all its basil onshore, exponentially increasing the basil-growing industry and helping sustain it through the challenge of COVID-19 Lockdowns as well as boosting the local economy.

Genoese Pesto, based in Horowhenua, had until recently obtained all the fresh basil that went into their award-winning products from Fiji, having anywhere from a few hundred kilograms to a tonne per week flown in.

However, issues around supply continuity, freight costs, biosecurity, and a concern for the environmental impact of the air miles involved led Genoese to find a New Zealand grower, securing a contract with Southern Fresh Foods in Cambridge, Waikato.

Genoese Pesto co-owner Andrew Parkin says they had been maxing out the volume of supply from the farm the business owned in Fiji, and when the first COVID-19 lockdowns occurred, they knew they needed to look for the security of supply here in New Zealand. . . 


Rural round-up

10/09/2021

Austrian company given consent to buy 2018ha farm for forestry conversion – Rebecca Ryan:

More farmland is set to be converted into forestry in the Waitaki.

An Austrian company has been given consent to buy a 2018ha sheep and beef farm at Mount Trotter, near Palmerston.

The Overseas Investment Office approved the sale of the farm to 100% Austrian-owned company Cerberus Vermogensverwaltung GmbH, from Peter and Susan Lawson, as trustees of the Lawson Family Trust, for $8.5million.

The consent states the company intends to develop about 1524ha of the land into a commercial forest, principally in pine trees, and has received resource consent to do so. Planting is expected to start next year, and the trees would be harvested in 26 to 32 years. . . 

Flower farmers forced to bin or mulch harvest due to restrictions – Ella Stewart:

Under alert level 4 flower growers aren’t able to sell or distribute their goods. This means months of work and beautiful flowers are going straight into the bin.

On Saturday, Auckland-based flower grower Aila Morgan Guthrie took to her Instagram page to voice her frustration.

“I’ve just finished my harvest for the day and this is only one days’ harvest. It’s going to be the same tomorrow and the same after that and we’ve still got two more weeks of level 4 lockdown and we can’t sell them.

“Is there anyone out there in government or with contacts to government that can help us figure out how we can advocate for flower farmers in level 4. We’re one of the only businesses that have perishable goods that we can’t sell. All meat, fruit, veg – that can all be sold – but as for us, you know well, what do I do with this? This is all just going to go in the compost heap.” . . 

Hope tool can eliminate American Foulbrood –  Shawn McAvinue:

A new technology helping fight against a bee-killing disease is a “massive breakthrough”, an Otago apiarist says.

New Zealand Alpine Honey owner and Project CleanHive chairman Peter Ward, of Hawea, said he ran about 5000 hives across Otago, Southland and the West Coast.

The operation was one of the biggest in the South Island.

He had been beekeeping for nearly 45 years and the highly contagious American Foulbrood disease was a “constant concern”. . . 

Campaign for Wool reveals strategic direction:

Change is on the horizon and the future is bright.

That’s the message from The Campaign for Wool who has this week unveiled a dynamic short-term strategy that aims to help turn the tide on the struggles faced by New Zealand wool growers.

Campaign for Wool Chairman Tom O’Sullivan – himself a fourth-generation sheep farmer – says the strategy heralds a turning point for the wool industry, and growers should take heart. “I believe we’re at an important crossroads for strong wool,” he says. “Globally, consumers are starting to actively seek out natural and renewable products. We’re acting as quickly as we can, putting a short-term strategy in place that effectively triples our investment into the projects and resources required to leverage this sea change.”

The Campaign for Wool NZ Strategy 2021-2022 aims to deliver greater consumer awareness of wool fibre options through an integrated public campaign. “We know that when people are more aware of how wool benefits their lives, they’re more likely to purchase it,” says Tom. “That’s one way demand will grow, so an important focus for us is education and fostering a greater understanding of wool’s many qualities.” . . 

Farmers urged to enable staff to get vaccinations :

Farmers should do all they can to enable and encourage their staff to get their COVID vaccinations, Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“I know dairy farms are flat tack with calving and workforce shortages have never been worse. But there’s nothing more important than your family’s health, and that of your staff and their families.”

It would certainly help if district health boards booked a hall in some smaller towns for well-advertised-in-advance day clinics.

“If it’s possible to combine getting a jab with a trip into town for the next supermarket shop, or to pick up supplies from Farmlands or Wrightsons, try to make it happen. It’s part of being a good boss,” Chris said. . . 

Fall in dairy and forestry demand hits commodity prices :

Weakening demand for dairy and forestry exports saw commodity prices fall in August.

The ANZ Bank’s World Commodity Price Index dropped 1.6 percent last month, as dairy and wood products retreat from the extreme highs these hit earlier this year.

The dairy sub index fell 4 percent month on month, with whole milk powder, a key driver of farmer’s returns, falling 6.5 percent.

Forestry prices fell sharply, down 6.6 percent in August, as high overseas demand for logs started to ease. . . 


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

19/08/2021

Howl organisers planning even bigger protest – Sally Rae:

Groundswell New Zealand says it is planning a “major nationwide protest event” in November, following a lack of response by the Government to its concerns.

Although a date was yet to be set and details of the event outlined, spokesman Bryce McKenzie, of West Otago, said it would be “of a scale and impact that will be significant in New Zealand’s history”.

Last month, convoys of thousands of tractors and utes took part nationally in Groundswell NZ’s Howl of a Protest event, protesting against what it says are unworkable government regulations.

Its Enough is Enough message, outlining the group’s concerns, which was delivered at the protests, gave the Government a month to address the issues, or it would take further action. . . 

Farm dream from bullock wagon – Shawn McAvinue:

A dream to farm in North Otago began on a bullock wagon.

Ray Lawrence was a young boy when grandfather William began teaching him about stockmanship.

‘‘He was a natural — a great stockman.’’

As a teenager, William Lawrence ran bullock wagons between Dunedin and Oamaru and dreamed of farming in North Otago. . .

Southland farmer and his dog to represent NZ :

The trans-Tasman rivalry has reignited once again – this time in the search for the hardest working farm dog.

It’s the first time New Zealand has entered the Cobber Working Dog Challenge, which tracks how hard each canine works over the three-week competition using GPS collars.

One duo representing the country is Josh Tosh and Trix – from Dipton in Southland.

Tosh told Morning Report he has had Trix since she was just 8 weeks old and has trained her up to the hard working 3-and-a-half year old farm dog that she is now. . . 

 

Iwi, industry and government unified in stance to protect mānuka honey in Aotearoa New Zealand’s ‘Champagne Moment’

Iwi, Government and the Mānuka Honey Industry are unified in their stance to protect the term Mānuka for all New Zealanders following opposition to registration of the term MANUKA HONEY at a hearing at the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) on 18 August, 2021. “

The goal is to protect the term MANUKA HONEY internationally so that it may only be lawfully used on honey produced in Aotearoa. For Māori, this means that our reo is respected and a precious taonga (treasure) is being honoured and protected. For consumers, it means that they can trust they are getting genuine honey produced in New Zealand from our Mānuka trees. It also protects the industry, export earnings and jobs,” said Pita Tipene, Chair of the Mānuka Charitable Trust (MCT).

“There are some similarities to when wine producers everywhere started branding their sparkling wines as champagne, until the French took ownership. Now anything labelled Champagne must be from that region. For us it runs even deeper because Mānuka is our taonga (treasure) and our reo (language),” said Pita. . . 

Ravensdown invests in future as team focuses on farm environment planning:

Ravensdown is gearing up for the growing demand for farm environment planning and investing in future capabilities. This ongoing investment in future on-farm performance meant the co-operative was unable to meet the previous year’s record profit performance, however last year did end with a satisfying and strong profit of $53 million from continuing and discontinuing operations, before tax and rebate.

The co-operative returned a total of $33 million to its eligible farmer shareholders including $16 million paid as an early interim rebate in June.

“We were right to view 2020-21 with cautious optimism. Our strong result was based on great shareholder support, a hard-working team and an effective strategy,” said Ravensdown’s Chair John Henderson. “Our shipping joint venture and long-term relationships with reliable suppliers proved extremely valuable as the supply disruption resulting from the pandemic impacted so many other industries. Along with sustained focus on product availability, we will continue to invest in the science, technologies and services that can help the agsector thrive into the future,” added John. . . 

Local company secures rights for ground breaking fertiliser:

NZ Premium Health Ltd has been appointed the exclusive New Zealand distributor for Swift Grow, a 100% Australian Certified Organic fish-based fertiliser.

Swift Grow is produced in New South Wales by River Stone Fish Farms. The company’s founder, Genetics Engineer Joseph Ayoub, developed the product in response to what he saw as a diminished fertility of soils, both in domestic and commercial environments.

Ayoub has fond childhood memories of the delightful flavour and aroma of naturally-grown food. “But I noticed that this gradually diminished over time because of decades of intensive commercial farming practices.” . . 


Rural round-up

07/08/2021

Independent research highlights need for limits on forestry offsetting for fossil fuel emitters:

New independent research confirms a significant amount of sheep and beef farmland has been converted to forestry, underlining the need for limits on carbon offsetting. It also busts myths about trees going on ‘unproductive’ land and reinforces Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s view that the integration of forestry on farms is a better way of managing our landscapes and meeting climate change targets.

The study by BakerAg, commissioned by B+LNZ, reveals there has been a significant increase in the amount of farmland sold into forestry, driven in large part by an increase in the carbon price.  

The report was unable to identify exactly how much of the sheep and beef farmland sold into forestry was intended for pure carbon farming but based on examination of the land titles, it is estimated that about 26,550 hectares of the 77,800 hectares of whole farms sold into forestry since 2017 were to carbon only entities (about 34 percent of the whole farm sales). 

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor said the report shows that in 2017, 3,965 hectares of whole sheep and beef farms were sold into forestry; this increased to 20,227 ha in 2018; 36,824 ha in 2019. It declined to 16,764 hectares in 2020 (most likely as a result of COVID-19) but rural intelligence suggests it has regathered momentum this year and moved into new regions, threatening rural communities.   . . 

Opinion divided on climate change advice – Colin Williscroft:

Rural groups generally wanted the Climate Change Commission (CCC) to pull back on some of its recommendations to the Government on New Zealand’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets, while many in urban areas thought the targets were not ambitious enough.

The commission received more than 15,400 submissions on the draft advice it released in February, with less than 40 made in hard copy format.

About 900 of the total number of submissions, which were recently made public, were from organisations, with just under 40 from iwi/Māori and the remainder from individuals.

Four organisations provided template submissions sent to the commission’s email address, with members of those groups sending in templated submissions multiple times. . . 

Finally we will have some cohesion – Shawn McAvinue:

The time for two wool companies to merge is now, Eastern Southland sheep farmer Mark Copland says.

A change is needed because the “ridiculously low” price for strong wool is driving him to use the fribs and dag wool as fertiliser.

“I felt it was better value as fertiliser than selling the stuff.”

In November, about 2100 farmers will be eligible to vote on a proposed merger between grower-owned export and marketing company Wools of New Zealand and Primary Wool Co-operative to form a fully integrated supply chain business. . . 

Trials look at the rattling of fewer dags :

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics’ Low Input Sheep Progeny Trial is identifying the genetics that will futureproof this country’s sheep industry. In part one of this two-part series, we take a look at how the trial is set up and the focus on dags.

As consumers are increasingly demanding meat produced with minimal inputs and intervention, B+LNZ Genetics’ Low Input Sheep Progeny Trial aims to identify environmentally-efficient sheep that perform without docking, drenching or dagging.

Run on Orari Gorge Station – a 4,500ha hill country farm in South Canterbury – the trial is testing the genetics put forward by 16 future-focused sheep breeders.

The property is the ideal testing ground for genetics. Orari Station is 75% tussock country, 15% lower hill with only 10% flats. Average annual rainfall is 1,200mm. Owner Robert Peacock says it is wet more than it is dry, so worms are a constant challenge. . . 

Looking back on a life full of rich memories – Alice Scott:

The year is hazy and just what rugby match it was, Sutton farmer Donny Tisdall can’t quite recall, but the day itself has been etched in his memory ever since.

Mr Tisdall, along with mates Tony Markham and Davie Murdoch and brother Larry Tisdall, were horseback cantering down Dunedin’s Forbury Rd, each with a beer in hand and grinning like Cheshire cats. Earlier that day they had been part of a Speight’s Southern Man promotion.

Atop their horses and fitted out in oilskin jackets and hats, they had led a parade of university Scarfies from the Octagon to Carisbrook Stadium where they circulated around the ground, still on horseback, throwing Crunchie bars and T-shirts into an exuberant sell-out crowd.

“We then took off through the city, cantering down the middle of the road, back to Forbury Raceway where the horses were being kept overnight. We got picked up and taken back to the game, where we were treated like royalty for the rest of the night,” Mr Tisdall recalls. . .

Let cows enjoy the taste of grass – Shan Goodwin:

Since biblical times, societies have wrestled with the apparent juxtaposition of treating animals well and ensuring they have a good life at the same time as raising them for food.

Today, that quandary is at the crux of some of the most pertinent issues in the livestock production space, from efforts to garner government support for banning certain sectors to attempts to market animal protein alternatives.

Little wonder then that an Australian Tedx Talk featuring a former country veterinarian turned academic with a PhD in animal welfare on the topic of what makes cows happy has garnered plenty of interest.

Associate professor David Beggs, from the University of Melbourne’s veterinary school, titled his July talk from Warrnambool “Do Cows Think Grass Tastes Good?” . . 


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