Boohoo boo-boo

17/02/2019

Fashion retailer Boohoo has made a boo-boo:

Boohoo will no longer produce items made from wool.

The news comes after the animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), launched an appeal calling on the online retailer to take a stand against the wool industry, which it claims is alarmingly abusive to sheep.

Now, the popular fashion company, whose brands include Boohoo, BoohooMan, Pretty Little Thing and Nasty Gal, has confirmed that as of autumn/winter 2019, it will “no longer knowingly source any wool products. . .

This is a UK company but how long before this virtue signaling, based on politics and emotion not science and animal welfare, spreads?

PETA pedals this nonsense and it’s difficult for the truth to counteract their lies.

No good shearer abuses sheep and no good farmers stand for shearers who abuse their stock.

Shearing isn’t cruel, rather the reverse is true.

Modern sheep have been bred to produce wool and if they’re not shorn their wool gets too long, causes overheating, hampers their movement, makes it more likely they’ll get cast and get fly-strike.

What’s more, wool is a much more environmentally-friendly option than synthetic alternatives which don’t degrade and pollute water by leaching microfibers when they’re washed.

It’s a natural, renewable product with fire-retardant properties. It doesn’t leach microfibres and it degrades easily when disposed of.

UPDATE:

The company has made a ewe-turn:

Boohoo has announced it will continue using wool in its products, despite earlier promising to enforce a ban by the autumn. The online fashion retailer had faced a backlash after unveiling plans to stop selling items containing wool – with one sheep farmer telling Sky News he was “absolutely disgusted” by the ban. . . 


Shearing here and there

25/07/2018

All but the smallest of New Zealand sheep farms have their own shearing sheds.

Their primary purpose is for shearing and crutching sheep.

Between shearings they’re used for storage and they can also host social occasions. I’ve been to some very good parties, and a wedding, in them.

As sheep have given way to other stock or different types of farming, some shearing sheds have been repurposed as shops, cafes and function venues.

In the UK where most farms have far fewer sheep, the shearing machines are on a trailer that travels from farm to farm.

Shearing is hot work at the best of times, it must be even hotter this summer as the UK swelters in a heatwave.


Rural round-up

29/07/2017

Shearing record falls:

Hawke’s Bay shearer Rowland Smith has smashed a World shearing record in England.

The 30-year-old father-of-two shore 644 romney and crossbred ewes in eight hours at Trefranck Farm, near St Clether in Cornwall, beating the previous record of 605 set by Invercargill shearer Leon Samuels in Southland earlier this year.

It was the latest in a string of world shearing records in the family, including the ultimate record of 731 ewes in nine hours by Matthew Smith at Tefranck on July 26 last year. . .

Knee-deep and wanting to cry – Sally Rae:

“It’s just the worst thing to happen to a farm,” Taieri dairy farmer Katie Clark rues as she stands in knee-deep floodwater in front of her home.

Calving is due to start in two days on the Clark family’s property, on Otokia Rd West, yet most of their farm remains under water.

Yesterday, their house was surrounded by water, firewood was floating in the yard, they could not use the shower or toilet, a mattress had floated from a shed into the garden, and there was no sign of the water level dropping.

Ask Mrs Clark how she is faring and she says “it’s horrible. We just want to cry. Look where our cows are.” . . 

Optimism follows record rain – Annette Scott:

Canterbury soils are saturated, crops have drowned and pastures have transformed to mud bowls, but in the aftermath of the worst-ever rain event on record, there are positives.

“Despite the fact we are sludging on in extremely trying conditions, and more rain, the positives would outweigh the negatives,” Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury vice-chairman David Clark said.

In the worst-hit parts of the South Island, the deluge dumped up to 180mm across Mid Canterbury in what has been recorded as the biggest rain event ever for the region, while in South Canterbury 67mm of rain fell in 12 hours, more than its average July rainfall of 40mm. . .

Ballance delivers strong FY2017 result and returns $54m to farmers:

• Gross trading result up $22 million to $56.8 million

• Shareholder rebate of $45 per tonne, with total distribution of $54 million

• Record urea production of 277,224 tonnes, with staged investment in Kapuni

• $35 million investment in distribution network and digital transformation. . .

Silver Fern CEO Dean Hamilton steps down – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Silver Fern Farms announced the resignation of chief executive Dean Hamilton, who will leave at the end of the year, and said a search is underway for his replacement.

Hamilton has been chief executive of Silver Fern Farms, New Zealand’s biggest meat company, for three years and steered it through the Shanghai Maling investment and partnership. No reason was given for his resignation but co-chairman Rob Hewett said “we been discussing for some time the demands on him of working away from home” and the board “appreciates and accepts” his desire for change. . .

Wool prices firm ;

At yesterday’s South Island sale, longer 37-micron crossbred second-shear wool increased 40 cents to $3.15 a kilogram compared to last week’s North Island sale, while mid-length fibre gained 25 cents to $2.70/kg and shorter styles were firm at $2.40, according to AgriHQ. Meanwhile, 31-micron lamb wool was also up week on week by 80 cents to $3.70/kg.

Compared with the last South Island sale two weeks ago, 37-micron crossbred fleece was up 5 cents to $3/kg. Meanwhile the improvements in the second shear were not as large due to the premium that is typical for the South Island. The longer 37-micron second shear was up 5 cents to $3.15/kg while the shorter style was firm at $2.40/kg, AgriHQ said. . .


Rural round-up

18/04/2015

Criteria “too tough” on migrant workers – Federated Farmers – Tess McClure:

Farmers facing labour shortages say immigration criteria is “too tough” for migrant workers plugging the gap.

High numbers of farmers had approached Federated Farmers Southland with concerns about visas for their migrant worker employees, regional president Russell Macpherson said.

He said many workers were having trouble getting residency visas, despite calls from farmers to help keep their employees in-country.
 
“For some reason the people at immigration don’t think these jobs are important enough to grant them residency,” he said. “They’re doing work that New Zealanders clearly don’t want to do, so why are we making it so hard?”
 
While many migrant workers coming to New Zealand on work visas have high hopes of staying in the country and bringing their families over, less than a third are granted the chance of residency. . .

Shearing community mourns woolhandler:

The shearing community is mourning the loss of New Zealand woolhandling legend, Joanne Kumeroa, who has died after a three year battle with cancer.

The 45-year old had been living in Australia but returned home to Whanganui just before Christmas, and died yesterday.

Ms Kumeroa was regarded in shearing circles as a New Zealand icon, winning more World, Golden Shears and national wool-handling titles than any other competitor in her 24 year career.

Friends said she used her battle with cancer to raise women’s awareness of the disease. . .

Project to future-proof our biosecurity system:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has launched a new project which will further strengthen and future-proof New Zealand’s biosecurity system.

The project, Biosecurity 2025, will update and replace the founding document of New Zealand’s biosecurity system, the 2003 Biosecurity Strategy, with broad input from stakeholders, iwi and the New Zealand public.

“Government and industry have set a goal of doubling the value of our exports by 2025, and an effective biosecurity system is fundamental to achieving this,” says Mr Guy. . .

 

Peta’s mutilated lamb campaign sparks backlash (graphic content) – Rosanna Price:

The picture above has been captioned by PETA with: THIS is what most sheep used for wool look like after “shearing”.

But many people, including animal-activists and sheep shearers, disagree.

The image of an Australian musician holding the explicity graphic and mutilated body of a lamb was animal rights group PETA’s (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’) way of advertising their latest expose on sheep shearing. . .

Outstanding in her field:

Dairy Woman of the Year 2015 Katie Milne hopes to use her new profile for the wider good of New Zealand farming. 

Katie Milne hopes winning the Dairy Woman of the Year title will be a good platform to push messages about farming as “the rest of New Zealand do not understand us well”.

 “They need to understand us better so we can be allowed to grow our industry, and to do that New Zealand has got to back us,” Milne told Rural News. . .

Questions for Fonterra – Andrew Hoggard:

A lot of shareholders were disappointed with the interim results Fonterra announced last week.  Many feel they are not seeing a return on their investment.

I think we might be asking the wrong question.  It shouldn’t be about where’s the return on our investment, but rather where do we see the value of being part of a co-op.

At the moment the milk price we are paid is based on the Global Dairy Trade result.  It is averaged across the season – less manufacturing costs – in a very crude simplistic sense.  The reality is that all the other companies should be achieving this anyway with their products. . .

Field day for Waipā catchment:

An event organised by DairyNZ aims to advise famers and landowners on how best to manage their property in an environmentally sustainable way.

People in the Waipā River catchment are being encouraged attend the Kaniwhaniwha Stream field day, which will offer information on funding sources for environmental initiatives along with other resources.

Hosts Denis and Felicity Ahlers have worked with industry body DairyNZ to develop an environment-focused sustainable milk plan. They have also identified work that can qualify for council and Waikato River Authority funding. . .


PETA picking on wool

11/04/2015

The radical animal rights group PETA has long campaigned against the meat industry.

Now it’s turned to wool with posters like the one on the right.

A user's photo.

Shearing is a highly skilled occupation and animal welfare is a priority for shearers and the farmers who own the sheep.

There’s usually little bleating in the shed and stock start grazing happily as soon as they return to the paddocks which is a sure sign they haven’t been traumatised by the shearing.

PETA might not want to believe that shearers and farmers care about animal welfare. But even they must understand the cost of injured animals and blood-stained wool provides a very strong financial incentive to treat stock with care.

The odd sheep might be accidentally nicked. But no shearer who deliberately injured an animal would keep his/her job and no reputable shearing gang or farmer would tolerate cruelty like that in the photo.

The lamb on the left has been shorn. The one on the right has either been photo-shopped or butchered for the campaign.


Rural round-up

25/02/2015

Dealing with drought stress – Sally Rae:

Drought affects the whole family – not just the farmer.

That is the message from a rural woman who has first hand experience of depression, following the recent declaration of drought for large swathes of the South Island.

The woman, who did not want to be named, said there would be hidden stress in partners and children, along with an impact on staff. . .

Vanuatu RSE workers grow business:

A New Zealand viticulturalist says support for workers from the Recognised Seasonal Employers scheme is reaping rewards in Vanuatu as they are now producing coconut oil on the island of Tanna.

A director of Vinepower in Blenheim, Jono Bushell, says two years ago he followed his workers who were returning home to see how they spent their earnings and saw the potential to make better use of coconuts growing on Tanna. . .

Craigieburn Station on the market – Jamie Gray:

The historic Craigieburn Station, in the central Canterbury foothills, has come up for sale for the first time in 98 years.

The station includes five lakes, several hills, peaks, valleys, dales and various rivers, including the upper reaches of the Waimakariri, which forms the property’s northern boundary, and the Cass River, which forms part of Craigieburn’s western boundary.

It has historically been used to graze and breed merino sheep and horned Hereford cattle. . .

Choice is key in GM debate –  Daniel Kruithoff:

 AGRICULTURE is once again at the forefront of the national conversation about Australia’s future prosperity. Having ridden the mining boom all the way to shore, sectors such as agriculture are being viewed as the next wave of economic growth.

Improved market access through free trade agreements will undoubtedly help drive demand for Australia’s high quality food and fibre, particularly among the booming middle class of Asia.

What is less certain though is the capacity of Australian agriculture to sustainably increase productivity fast enough to capitalise on the opportunity of becoming a food bowl for Asia. . .

 

Shear success: 10-year record tumbles – Rebecca Sharpe:

BATHURST shearer Stacey Te Huia has smashed the world record, shearing 530 Merino ewes in nine hours at Parkdale Merino stud, Dubbo, NSW, on Friday.

New Zealand-born Te Huia broke the previous record of 513, set by fellow Kiwi Dwayne Black near Kojonup, Western Australia, in 2005.

Shearing Industry Promotions committee treasurer Michael Pora said Te Huia looked flawless as he made his way through the flock.

“Te Huia did a sensational job to shear 530 sheep. Everything went right for him,” Mr Pora said. . .

Manuka Health to launch groundbreaking bioactive supplement at world’s largest natural health products show:

Manuka Health, one of New Zealand’s most succesful and fastest growing honey brands, is preparing to unveil MGO™ Manuka Honey with CycloPower™, an advanced natural bioactive supplement, at Expo West in California, the world’s largest tradeshow for the natural, organic and health products industry.

In what is a pioneering move for the Manuka Honey industry, Manuka Health is the first to have combined all natural CycloPower technology with the proven health benefits of genuine New Zealand Manuka Honey. When combined with active ingredients (such as the methylglyoxal molecules found in Manuka Honey), the naturally fibrous cyclodextrin molecules in CycloPower substantially elevate the beneficial activity of Manuka Honey, making it tens of times more potent against certain bacteria then the Manuka Honey of the same strength. MGO Manuka Honey with CycloPower is more stable, soluble and bioavailable for more efficient delivery over a longer period of time. . .

NZ Organic Wine Awards 15:

After a successful inaugural awards in 2014, The awards return for the ‘2015 NZ Organic Wine Awards’. Created to find, promote and showcase New Zealand’s best organic wines the second annual NZ Organic Wine Awards.

The ‘New Zealand Organic Wine Awards’ is a ‘exclusively organic’ wine competition. In order to be judged, wine’s must be created using 100% certified organic grapes. Vineyards may be certified by any of the following certification authorities; Biogro, Demeter, Asure Quality or Organic Farm NZ. Organic wine is a fast market growth area, with consumer demand growing exponentially. Organic Wine doesn’t just offer health benefits such as being pesticide free, and lower in sulphites; we believe using organic techniques can help to create a superior wine. . .

 


Rural round-up

14/06/2014

Integrated agri-food value chains – Keith Woodford:

Many New Zealand agri-food companies are still struggling to understand the global shift to integrated agri-food value chains. This move has been playing out most spectacularly in the infant formula industry, where the small companies have been badly caught out, but the trend is much broader than that.

A key driver is the need to have food safety systems in place that span from consumers back to producers. It is not simply a case of the food having to be safe, it is also a case of there being a transparent evidential trail. Food testing is just a small part of this system.
A major focus has to be on overall business systems that react to first stage mistakes before they compound into major events. It was just such a failure to react to the warning signals that led Fonterra down a shambolic path with the botulism scare in 2013.

There is also a key idea relating to provenance. Consumers not only want to know that something is safe; they also want to know that they are buying is what they think they are buying, and that the brand is genuine. . .

Milk spill stopper wins innovation award – Jamie Small:

The dragons have chosen, and another farm invention is one step closer to commercial success.

For the second year running, Fieldays had its own Dragons Den-style competition for agricultural innovations.

The joint initiative, run by Fieldays and Hamilton business incubator Soda Inc, selected nine innovators from a pool of 20 to present their gadgets to a panel of experienced investors and business leaders.

The top prize, Most Viable Business, went to Pahiatua couple Graeme and Alison Franklin with the DTexH2o. . . .

Primary Industry’s outlook good:

Federated Farmers believes the ‘2014 Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries’, released by the Ministry for Primary Industries, shows a promising future for the New Zealand economy thanks to kiwi farmers.

“This report shows an increase of 16.3 percent in primary sector exports, to $37.7b on the previous year, which translates to increased farmgate incomes of 22 percent and an increase in off farm spending of 11 percent,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers National President.

“These statistics remind us of the importance of exports to New Zealand, in particular the impact on farmgate incomes and spending on farm inputs, which has a direct influence on rural and provincial economies. . . .

Applauding the night away: superb exporters win top recognition:

Spectacular export growth of hundreds of chicken and turkey products has won Tegel Foods the Supreme Award in the 2014 Air New Zealand Cargo Export NZ Auckland export awards.

Prime Minister John Key presented the award last night at the Langham hotel in Auckland also attended by Auckland Mayor Len Brown and ‘Minister for Business’, Steven Joyce.

The judges said Tegel has been an iconic brand in New Zealand for more than 50 years and began developing export markets 11 years ago. . . .

Fonterra slapped with $150,000 fine over NZX disclosure – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – The New Zealand Markets Disciplinary Tribunal has fined Fonterra Cooperative Group $150,000 for breaching continuous disclosure requirements to the NZX during the dairy manufacturer and exporter’s botulism false alarm last August.

Auckland-based Fonterra undertook a world wide recall after it quarantined several batches of whey protein concentrate last August on concern it was contaminated with a potentially dangerous strain of clostridium bacteria, capable of causing botulism. The strain was ultimately shown to be harmless. . . .

Boys from the farm turn on the charm – Libby Wilson:

Fieldays’ rural bachelor contestants have done the hard yards in the leadup to their event.

The eight eligible blokes chased sheep, shot clay targets, and went zorbing on their journey from Auckland to Mystery Creek.

And the action continued yesterday, with fencing, speed-dating and cooking.

Yesterday morning they faced questions from Waikato women.

It seems ladies into a romantic but rural first anniversary picnic would be a good match with Wanganui’s Fraser Laird, 26. “I’ve got some back paddocks at the back of the farm. It’s got a bloody good view. Serious,” he said. . . .

Farmers encouraged to embrace technology – Susie Nordqvis:

Accounting firm Xero is laying down a challenge to farmers this week’s Fieldays: start embracing technology and innovation to maximise profits and grow the economy.

The innovation hub at Fieldays is not quite Dragon’s Den, but it is a sure fire way of fast-tracking participants onto the national stage.

“We have developed an ice maker that makes a slurry and you can reduce milk from 32degC down to 5degC in three seconds,” says innovation den participant Richard Upperton.

Xero says if more people followed Mr Upperton’s lead then the economy would be in better shape. . .

New Zealanders and shearing – Ali Ikram:

Sheep outnumber New Zealanders seven to one. 

They’re crucial to our economy and they get a bad wrap when it comes to their intelligence.

But there was one question we desperately wanted answered – as New Zealanders, can we all shear a sheep?

Is it innate in us – a birth-right?

Or are there some born and bred in cities who simply can’t shear, no matter what? . . .


Rural round-up

09/07/2013

Call to take multi-party approach – Sally Rae:

The state of the red-meat industry was, not surprisingly, a major topic of conversation at Federated Farmers national conference in Ashburton last week.

A session entitled ”Culture Change: The New Beginning In The Meat Industry” was a focus of the meat and fibre meeting, as agribusiness reporter Sally Rae reports.

Former PPCS chairman Reese Hart believes a merger between the co-operative (now Silver Fern Farms) and Alliance Group is not a priority.

”I simply think there are more important things to be done. I think the merger will happen some day but probably not for the reasons we wanted it to happen five years ago,” Mr Hart told Federated Farmers meat and fibre meeting in Ashburton last week. . .

Beef prices expected to firm

New Zealand beef prices are expected to firm over the next quarter, partly in response to tighter supplies resulting from the drought, but also to forecasts of a wet winter encouraging producers to retain stock, Rabobank said.

The specialised agribusiness lender said seasonal pressures still exist, but have since improved from the poor conditions in the first quarter.

Most regions received some good rainfall, with temperatures still warmer than average, which has enabled some good pasture growth, the bank said. . .

Debacle carries big implications for farmers – James Houghton:

While Christchurch was taking in the revelations about its council’s chief executive, former Hamilton City Council CEO Tony Marryatt, farmers were discussing the big issues facing agriculture at Federated Farmers’ national conference in Ashburton.

Fittingly, these discussions included a plenary session featuring Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend, Selwyn District Mayor Kelvin Coe and Ashburton District Mayor Angus McKay, looking at local government and its implications for some of its biggest contributors, the rural sector.

Christchurch City Council has hit some serious credibility issues, with International Accreditation New Zealand withdrawing its ability to issue building consents. It is clear council staff were not meeting the required building code standards. It is also clear they were not meeting the required standards of professionalism needed. . .

Soil health key component of farm economics – Gerald Piddock:

Future farm systems can achieve environmental and economic sustainability, but there are no quick-fix solutions for reaching that goal, a DairyNZ scientist says.

Getting there would require a balance between environmental and production- driven goals, DairyNZ senior scientist Pierre Beukes told scientists and farmers at the New Zealand Society of Animal Production Conference in Hamilton.

Farmers would have to build strong system fundamentals based around soil health, nutrients and cows to withstand the future challenge of farming within limits. . .

Healthy pipfruit profits expected – Peter Watson:

The Nelson economy is in for a much-needed boost with the pipfruit season shaping up as the best in five years.

After losing money in three of the last four years, growers expect to bank a modest to healthy profit this year on the back of record prices for many varieties in Europe and Britain and steady growth in Asia.

They have been aided by a shortage of fruit in key markets and a weakening kiwi.. .

New Zealand shearing team has first win:

New Zealand’s shearing test team has tasted success for the first time on its Northern Hemisphere test tour, levelling the eight-match series at one-a-piece.

Golden Shears champion Rowland Smith, from Hastings, and Rakaia’s Tony Coster combined to beat an English test pairing by three points at the Lakelands Shears in Cumbria. . .

Hawkes Bay Winery scoops four medals at San Francisco International Wine Competition:

Hawkes Bay boutique winery Mangapapa Estates has scooped four medals at the prestigious San Francisco International Wine Competition with its Chateau Waimarama branded wines.

More than 4,500 wines were judged at this year’s competition and out of the four wines entered, all Chateau Waimarama wines attained medals, a Gold Medal, two Silvers and one Bronze.

The Gold Medal was for Chateau Waimarama’s 2009 Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon. . .


Rowland Smith Golden Shears champ

03/03/2013

Hastings-based shearer Rowland Smith has won the 2013 Golden Shears open.

A new shearing champion has been saluted in an emotional end to the 53rd Golden Shears  in which he gave his $3000 prize to help fight cancer.

After his win in an almlost all-Hawke’s Bay race for the “Wimbledon” of shearing in Masterton, 26-year-old Rowland Smith, of Hastings, told the crowd “it’s not for the money,” and bolstered the shears’ cancer research fundraising to over $11,000 from donations and other gifted prizes.

Smith’s own mother died of cancer, making it a particularly poignant moment as shearsgoers got behind woolhandling icon Joanne Kumeroa, battling cancer but still finishing second in her attempt to win the wool industry pageant’s Open woolhandling title for a seventh time.

The shearing final was an exciting contest dominated by four Hawke’s Bay shearers who were separated by less than four-tenths of a point, Smith justifying his TAB favouritism after winning eight other finals in the six weeks leading into Shears week.

With 16-times winner David Fagan missing from the final for only the fourth time in 30 years, Smith was always going to find three  other former winners toughest to beat in defending champion and four-times winner John Kirkoatrick, of Napier, 2006 winner Dion King, of Hastings, and 2010 winner Cam Ferguson, of Waipawa.

 It was King who poured on the pace throughout the contest, finishing the 20 second-shear sheep first in 16min 30.09sec, 16 secoonds ahead of Kirkpatrick, and another 8 seconds ahead of Smith.

With Ferguson next to finish, all four Hawke’s Bay guns put more than a sheep around World champion Gavin Mutch, a Scotsman farming in Taranaki, and Southland hope Nathan Stratford.

The final result was in doubt however until the presentation, with Rowland’s event best 10.45 quality points total securing him the major prize.  King had to settle for second overall, Kirkpatrick third and Ferguson fourth.   

Amazingly, despite his lack of familiarity with the fine-wooled merino, Kirkpatrick was first to finish the multi-breeds PGG Wrightson National Circuit final earlier in the night. Taking 19min 6.862sec for the 15 sheep, half-a-minute slower than the fastest time last year and in nhis first time in the circuit final, he just just pipped 2009-2011winner Tony Coster, of Rakaia, for the major prize.

With points ultimately in the same order as the shearers came off the board, World champion, Scottish national and Whangamomona farmer Gavin Mutch was third and defending champion Angus Moore, from Ward in  Marlborough but now living at Kaitangata, South Otago, was fourth.

The 15 sheep comprised three of each type representing each of the qualifying rounds at Alexandra (fine wool), Waimate (longwool, Alexandra (coarse wool), Raglan (lambs) and Pahiatua (second-shear).

A dramatic Open woolhandling final ended with World champion Joel Henare, 21, of Gisborne, winning the title for the first time after four consecutive second placings in the event. He’s the youngest ever to win the title, and the first male woolhandling champion since Oti Mason, of Dannevirke, won in 2000.

In the other major event of the final night, New Zealand won a shearing test over Australia.

The link in the opening sentence will take you to the full results on Shearing Sports NZ’s website.


Rural round-up

04/02/2013

Alliance taste testers help guide NZ meat industry – Dave Gooselink:

A team of 50 Southlanders have what some carnivores might see as the perfect job.

They’re the taste testing panel for meat company Alliance, charged with ensuring the company’s export lamb, beef and venison is gourmet quality.

There’s not a lot of conversation around the table. The diners are too busy eating prime cuts of lamb, cooked to perfection by an award-winning chef. It’s their job, making in-depth evaluations of meat.

“You smell it for the aroma, then you bite into it for the texture and succulence, then last of all the flavour,” says veteran meat taste tester Sonja Lindsay. . .

$21m of new funding to benefit research partnerships:

The Government will invest $21 million over a maximum of seven years to support research that will benefit two of New Zealand’s primary industries Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce announced today.

A $16 million investment over seven years will be made in the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium and a $5 million investment over a maximum of seven years will be made in Seafood Innovations Limited.

“Science and innovation are major drivers of economic growth and international competitiveness. These investments will help improve the performance of two key parts of our primary industries, and as a result the New Zealand economy will benefit,” Mr Joyce says.

The Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium — a partnership between AgResearch, DairyNZ, Beef+Lamb NZ, Fonterra, Landcorp Ltd and DeerResearch — will develop new technologies that farmers can use to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without loss of productivity. . .

ORC split on water accord – Rebecca Fox:

A decision about whether or not to sign up to the dairy sector’s new water accord has divided Otago regional councillors.

The council, along with others nationally, has been asked to sign up to the accord as a ”friend” but the implications of this worried some councillors, while others were concerned not signing would alienate the dairy sector.

Councillors voted three times before a final decision was made to sign the document – although not all were happy. . .

Winton’s dairy vet woman of year finalist – Sally Rae:

Winton dairy veterinarian and mastitis consultant Kath Taylor is among six finalists in the 2013 Dairy Women of the Year Award.

She has been a dairy vet for 19 years, graduating from Massey University in 1994 and working in mixed practice in Taranaki for the next seven years before moving to Southland in 2001. She works for VetSouth Ltd in Winton, leading the milk-quality team. . .

Shearers take break before big Southland record challenge:

Four shearers are sitting it out in Southland in the countdown to a World Record shearing challenge in which they could shear as many as 3100 lambs between them on Tuesday.

Contractor and event organiser Brendon Potae says he’s given the quartet the weekend off after three hard weeks preparing for the Heiniger Four-stand Crossbred Lambs Eight-Hour World Record, to be shorn at Centre Hill Station, near Mossburn.

“I’ve told them to go fishing, sightseeing,” he said today as he and others from a support crew expected to swell to almost 70 people put finishing touches to the shed where about 250 people are expected to watch the event inside, with others watching on CCTV in marquees nearby. . .

Dancers for Farmarama – Sally Rae:

Tractors, motorbikes, farm machinery and dancing girls will all be on display at the Southfuels Farmarama at Lawrence on February 7 and 8.

The biennial event will be held at the Lawrence gymkhana grounds, opening to the public at 11am on the Thursday and 9am on the Friday. . .

Tru-Test Group acquires NZ’s leading milk containment and refrigeration company, DTS:

Auckland-based agri-tech company Tru-Test Group has today announced the acquisition of Dairy Technology Services from NDA. The move is the second such deal completed by Tru-Test Group in recent months, following its purchase of Radian Technologies (MilkHub) in December.

Dairy Technology Services (DTS) is the leading provider of milk storage and cooling systems in the New Zealand dairy industry. It employs 80 staff in its manufacturing facility in Taranaki and its nationwide sales, installation, repairs and maintenance and customer service operation based in Hamilton.

The deal reflects NDA’s desire to focus on its engineering activities in the dairy processing and transport, chemicals and refining, wine and resources industries. . .

New Record Top Price at Karaka Festival Sale:

Day 1 of New Zealand Bloodstock’s two-day Festival Sale was highlighted by a new top price for this session with the Swiss Ace colt at Lot 1149 fetching $125,000.

From the Hussonet mare Eclaircissement, Lot 1149 from Westbury Stud was purchased by Rogerson Bloodstock for $125,000.

Having a previous affiliation with the family, Rogerson was prepared to go beyond his budget to secure the colt out of a half-sister to multiple stakeswinner Illuminates (Strategic). . . .


Rural round-up

31/10/2012

Customers attack Sainsbury’s for ditching Red Tractor – Alistair Driver:

SAINSBURY’S has come under fire on its own website over its decision to drop the Red Tractor logo from the food it sells.

Customers have branded the decision a ‘disgrace’ and some are threatening to stop shopping at Sainsbury’s stores until the logo is reinstated. The move has also been attacked by TV presenter Jimmy Doherty, who described it as ‘an odd thing to do’.

The UK’s third biggest retailer announced it was ditching the Red Tractor logo last week, blaming concerns that consumers were becoming confused about the number of labels on food packaging. It is planning to phase the logo out across its products lines, beginning with fresh meat. . .

CAP reform must not overshadow collaboration on family-owned farms –  Tom Levitt:

SMALLER family farms need better access to rural development funds to enable them to break free of subsidy dependence, a meeting of the Family Farmers Association (FFA) in Westminster heard last week.

NFU vice-president Adam Quinney, whose wife now runs the family farm near Redditch, West Midlands, told the audience that CAP funding was still inaccessible and unfavourable to smaller farm enterprises.

He was especially scathing of rural development funding, split between environmental schemes, modernising the farming sector and helping the rural economy. He said it had been largely ‘wasted’. . .

Times change for big show – Jill Galloway:

A & P shows used to be the the highlight of the social calendar for many people. They were the event of the year and there were public holidays, so people had time off to go to the show.

Now there are just two which have statutory holidays – Hawke’s Bay and Canterbury celebrate their anniversary days the weekend of their shows.

“Twenty years ago, it was about the promotion and sale of livestock,” says Manawatu and West Coast A & P president Lawrence Satherley. Now, Manawatu Showtime, being held at Manfeild Park this weekend, is competing against the Tour de Manawatu bicycle race, the Feilding horse races at Awapuni and the stock cars in Palmerston North. . .

Farm Environment Trust Leader Bows Out After Constructive Tenure:

North Waikato farmer Jim Cotman has stood down from his role as chairperson of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust after a very successful six years at the helm.

Since the Trust was established, its flagship event, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, has gone from strength to strength and is now regarded as one of New Zealand’s premier farming awards. The Trust has also developed a range of other initiatives designed to promote environmental sustainability in New Zealand agriculture.

Mr Cotman says the Trust has played a key role in showcasing sustainable farming practices. . .

What NZ agriculture can learn from the i-Phone –  Milking on the Moove:

. . . New Zealand’s agricultural sector could do well to study Apples business model and supply chain design. I’m really struggling to think of a major NZ agribusiness that even attempts a vertical supply chain.

Fonterra is New Zealand’s economic saviour, but Fonterra is a commodity supplier. It is equivalent to a Korean company that supplies a component to Apples iPad or iPhone and receives less than 7% of the final retail price.
The red meat sector is in the same, farmers are relegated down the value chain and as a result receive only a small fraction of the retail price.
Australian dairy farmers are at the mercy of the supermarkets because they don’t control their supply chain. The same is true for our UK dairy farming friends too. . .

Standards met through pond course:

Over 100 contractors and designers of farm dairy effluent (FDE) ponds are the first to complete a training course aligned with new industry standards.

The Farm Dairy Effluent Pond Training Course was established by DairyNZ in conjunction with InfraTrain New Zealand and Opus International Consultants (Opus).

The course is based on Practice Note 21: Design and Construction of FDE Ponds, released by the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) at the end of last year. . .

Australia on top in new Trans-Tasman series opener:

New Zealand has suffered a double defeat in the machine shearing and woolhandling tests against Australia in Warnambool, near Melbourne.

The Shearing Sports New Zealand team did however derive some success, with a victory to its two blades shearers denying Australia a clean sweep of the three matches at Saturday’s Romney Shears, which also incorporated the Australian national championships. . .

Public Consultation Begins On Proposed Agricultural Vehicle Rule Changes

The NZ Transport Agency is seeking public feedback proposed changes to agricultural transport law.

The proposed changes would establish a two-tier system for agricultural vehicles, based on a 40km/h operating speed. Vehicles operating below this speed will be exempt from warrant of fitness and work time requirements. The proposed changes aim to reduce compliance costs and provide greater operational flexibility for vehicle owners, without comprising safety. . .


Fagan father & son double win

27/07/2012

Father and son wins at the Royal Welsh show have added another chapter to the Fagan shearing legend:

The New Zealand shearing legend David Fagan and his son Jack have scored a remarkable double on one of the biggest shearing stages in the world by winning the open and senior finals at the Royal Welsh Show.

Earlier this year Jeanette Maxwell of Federated Farmers called for shearing to be introduced to the Olympics.

Sir Brian Lochore seconded that:

Sir Brian, a Wairarapa farmer who contested in the first ever Golden Shears in Masterton in 1961, gave an almost “hero” status to today’s modern day international shearing guns in his speech at last night’s (Thursday March 1) Golden Shears World Championship dinner.

“Those competitors who are part of Golden Shears and now the World Championships are part of the World Cup of Shearing. Lets compare it to rugby. When New Zealand hosted the World Cup of rugby, we had the best players – the best prepared. Here in Masterton right now we have those same best players and the best prepared.”

Sir Brian said Golden Shears and the competitors who took part had champion quality.

“I absolutely support that shearing is no longer just a job. I do think that one day you will get it in the Olympics.”

Shearing is one of the most physically demanding occupations, it’s also a sport and those who take part are just as much athletes as those who compete in sports which are already included in the Olympics.


Shearing for Olympics?

19/01/2012

If sport is defined as an athletic  activity requiring skill or physical prowess  and often of a competitive nature there is no doubt shearing fits.

The most memorable sporting commentary I’ve ever encountered in fiction was Witi Ihimaera’s account of a shearing competition in Bulibahsa and this report on this record -breaking attempt shows it also has spectator appeal:

A world shearing record which stood for 16 years was broken in front of a frenzied crowd of more than 150 packed into a King Country woolshed today.

Stecey Te Huia, of Te Kuiti, and Sam Welch, of Waikaretu, shore a combined tally of 1341 ewes in nine hours to beat by six the previous record of 1335 set by Southlanders Darin Forde and Wayne Ingram in 1996.

If it’s sport, then why not an Olympic one? 

Jeanette Maxwell of Federated Farmers said recordholders could strip more than 700 sheep in eight hours and likened the feat to running back-to-back marathons.

“Our World Championship teams are athletes who take it to another level. Surely, time has come to elevate shearing’s sporting status to the ultimate world stage.

“One way would be to make shearing a demonstration sport at a Commonwealth Games, if not the Olympics itself.”

A spokesman said the New Zealand Olympic Committee took the suggestion seriously and would be behind any attempt to include shearing.

I can see some obstacles, not least of which would be sourcing enough sheep in some of the   host countries and animal welfare issues.

But I disagree with Otago University sports marketing senior lecturer John Guthrie who said it could play up to stereotypes about New Zealand, whose sheep flock is about 10 times the human population.

The best way to counter stereotypes is with education and showcasing shearing at the Olympics would be a very good way to educate people about the skill and athleticism required to do it.

It could also help people trying to market wool to counter the misconception held by too many people that sheep have to be killed before the fibre is harvested.


Women’s world shearing title won by Kiwi

11/01/2012

Te Kuiti shearer Kerri-Jo Te Huia broke a world women’s shearing record by shearing 507 lambs in eight hours, just over one a minute.

If we’re celebrating that we need to congratulate Irish shearer Ivan Scott who broke the men’s world shearing record by shearing 744 lambs, two more than previous record holder Hawkes Bay’s Cam Ferguson who broke the previous record last year.


Bark Up opens eyes to ag

30/08/2010

A few decades ago most people who didn’t live on farms knew people who did.

That meant young people who might be interested in careers  on farms or in farm support had little difficulty in investigating opportunities.

It’s very different now. New Zealand is much more urbanised and a lot of children grow up with little or no idea about career opportunities in agriculture.

Enter the Haka Bark Up which Sally Rae reports introduced 120 year 10 – 13 pupils to agriculture and supporting industries.

Among the pupils Geraldine High School agriculture teacher Margaret Walker took to last year’s Omarama Bark Up was a teenager “with very little focus on life”.

But when he saw the shearing module, his eyes “lit up with a passion”, and now, 12 months down the track, he is about to start an apprenticeship.

That teenager, who would have otherwise dropped out of school, now has introductory qualifications through Tectra.

“Now he’s just waiting to sign on the dotted line for his apprenticeship. You couldn’t ask for a better story. From a kid who was just going to drop out, to a kid with a passion.”

When the ag-sag of the 80s hit job opportunities were lost on farms and in farm support. For a couple of decades agriculture hasn’t been on the radar for a most young people when they’re considering what they want to do when they leave school.

But changes in farming fortunes in recent years, especially but not only in dairying, have led to more employment opportunities.

Initiatives like the Bark Up are good for both young people whose eyes are opened to opportunities in agriculture and the people who could employ them.


Training cheaper without Meat & Wool

01/07/2010

Meat and Wool New Zealand is no more. From today farmer levies fund only meat and the industry good organisation is now Beef and Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

One of the major concerns about losing the levy from wool was training for shearers and wool handlers. However, the ODT reports that training fees have been agreed which could cost farmers as little as a cent a sheep.

Woolhandlers and shearing contractors are hailing the agreement, which will see Tectra set new training course fees to take account of the absence of wool levy funding, which will also ensure the industry can continue to leverage some taxpayer funding for training.

New Zealand Shearing Contractors’ Association president Barry Pullin said how each contractor implemented the new regime was up to them, but it reflected the fact other industries expected their staff to contribute towards training costs.

Those costs would be as little as 1c a sheep, substantially less than the 21c a sheep wool growers paid as part of their wool levy to Meat and Wool New Zealand.

“What’s wrong with that? If we can do it for 1c a head when previously under the name of wool harvesting it cost 21c a sheep, it’s got to be better,” Mr Pullin said.

With wool prices in the doldrums still, a reduction in the cost of training the people who shear and handle it will be very welcome.


Where there’s wool . . .

06/04/2009

We watched shearers taking the fleeces off sheep in amazement in Cumbria in amazement. It wasn’t so much wool as hair and it was going to be burned.

That would never happen in New Zealand, we said with just a touch of smugness, because when you don’t have subsidies you wouldn’t waste your energy and money on sheep with worthless fleeces.

But we spoke too soon. The ODT reports that when the costs of shearing came to more than the returns from wool Bruce Willis, chair of Federated Farmers Meat & Wool section, decided to farm sheep for meat only.

Merino is doing better, helped by quality products and niche marketing with brands like Icebreaker and Untouched World, but strong, or coarse as it is so prosaicly called – wool has gone backwards.

Much of the world covers their floors in tiles rather than carpets and research into alternative uses for the fibre has had mixed success.

There was hope that wool could be used to soak up oil spills but that doesn’t seem to have gone anywhere. Wool insulation had a point of difference with consumers who prefer natural to synthetic fibres but isn’t widely used.

AgResearch’s stab and flame resistant wool fabric aroused interest at last year’s fashion week, but we need much more than that or a lot more farmers will be farming sheep for meat not fibre because where there’s wool there’s not much money.


Mother-daughter duo sets world shearing records

13/01/2009

Margaret Baynes and her 22 year-old daughter Ingrid have set the first women’s two-stand eight hour lamb shearing record.

TVNZ reported (not yet on line) that they had aimed to shear 800 lambs but managed to shear more than 900, with Ingrid shearing a few more than her mother.

Record attempts are refereed with points off for cuts or wool left on so it’s not just quantity but quality which counts.

UPDATE: The story is now on-line at TVNZ:

They hoped to shear 800 lambs but managed 923 collectively. Ingrid, with 470, pipped her mother’s total.


Shear Blacks win 4 world titles

09/10/2008

New Zealand’s premier shearing team, the Shear Blacks, has returned from the World Championships in Norway with four of a possible six titles.

41-year-old Paul Avery has spent 20 years shearing competitively. He last qualified for the world champs in 1998, but that year shearing legend David Fagan won.

With the help of an AMP scholarship, Mr Avery spent a month in Norway getting to know the local sheep.

“There lamb is like half as big again, like 50 to 60 kilos,” he says. “And they are crazy to shear they are kicking all the time. Even when you are sitting down at the end of a day shearing, sitting on the couch watching TV, you find your muscles are all tense and you’ve got to try and make yourself relax.”

Mr Avery was part of a team which won four out of a possible six titles. The team’s organiser says the results prove shearing is now a New Zealand sport in its own right.

“We have been funded by SPARC,” John Fagan from Shearing Sports NZ says. “Being an Olympic year this year, they didn’t fund us. But we are recognised as a sport.”

WHile I’d admired the skill and fitness of shearers I’d never really appreciated shearing as a sport until I read the account of a Golden Sheras final in Witi Ihimaera’s novel Bulibasha.


NZ 3 – Wales 0

28/07/2008

Ah well, we didn’t win the rugby in Sydney, but our shearers had a 3-0 whitewash in a test series in Wales.

The team, comprising Golden Shears and New Zealand championships winner and runner-up John Kirkpatrick, of Napier, and Paul Avery, of Toko, near Stratford, won the final test by just a point in a close and exciting 20-sheep duel at the Corwen Shears, in north Wales at the weekend.

They had scored a 10-point win the opening test at Lampeter the previous weekend, and a one-point win in the second test at the Royal Welsh Show on Thursday.

Avery, who won both the Golden Shears and New Zealand titles in 2007 before bowing to Kirkpatrick in this year’s event, completed a remarkable series of individual wins on tour by claiming the Corwen Shears open title, with Kirkpatrick second and King Country icon David Fagan third.

Shearing is often overlooked as a sport, but there is no doubting the fitness and skill of the competitors nor the excitement of a close match. Although I didn’t really appreciate this until I read the commentary of a Golden Shears final in Witi Ihimaera’s novel, Bulibasha.


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