Rural round-up


Wishing all Chinese people a happy Year of the Sheep, flourishing business, well-being, good luck and prosperity

Sheep milk conference hopes to boost interest:

Sheep’s milk yoghurt and ice-cream will be on the menu at a conference today, which aims to expand and develop interest in the sheep dairying industry.

The Ewe Milk Products and Sheep Dairying conference will be held over the next two days in Palmerston North.

Massey University business school associate professor, Craig Prichard, said the industry had struggled to establish itself as a viable alternative to traditional but there was growing potential as interest in sheep dairy products increased. . .

Come on John, give them a break!:

The last time I dared to question MIE’s desired reform of the meat industry, John McCarthy accused me of bias and warned me to watch out, if we are unlucky enough to run into each other. So this column will almost certainly result in another attack on my character and more threats to my personal safety!

But after reading his Pulpit diatribe (Farmers Weekly 26 January), I can’t resist the chance to express surprise at some of the logic expressed there. He clearly believes the two cooperatives, SFF and Alliance, are guilty of driving the market for sheepmeat down to the bottom solely because of their incompetence. The only way he says this will change is to vote more MIE endorsed candidates onto the boards.

McCarthy accuses media commentators and company executives of myopia in their industry predictions last year which have now turned out to be too optimistic. Climatic and political circumstances have changed considerably since those forecasts were made which largely explains the downward trend. Possibly we should all have forecast the closing of the Russian market to other Western exporters, the slowdown in China, deflation in the EU, port clearance delays in the USA and the drought in much of this country. But when those forecasts were made, none of these factors were as clear as they are in hindsight. . .

Otago field days focus on farm effluent management:

DairyNZ ENVIROREADY field days starting next week will bring farmers up to speed with good practice effluent management, and provide tools and information to help them meet Otago Regional Council environmental regulations.

DairyNZ water quality specialist Shirley Hayward says the events are about helping farmers feel confident in their knowledge of how they can meet council regulations.

“With the more stringent effluent and discharge rules now in place, this will help everyone understand what they need to do to ensure they comply. There is something for everyone, staff, managers and owners alike as there is a practical hands-on component as well as discussion around infrastructure decisions and investment,” says Shirley. . .


SFF ownership ‘important’ – Sally Rae:

An appeal has been made to Silver Fern Farms to ”not sell the goose that has the potential to lay the golden eggs”.

Speaking at the co-operative’s annual meeting in Dunedin yesterday, Meat Industry Excellence member Mark Patterson said farmer ownership of the value chain would be ”incredibly important” and the company’s proposed capital raising had the potential to dilute that. . .

Why are we so afraid of the fruit fly? :

* What is Bactrocera tryoni or the Queensland fruit fly?

A native of Australia, it is one of the most destructive of the 4500 fruit flies in the world. It is fond of fleshy fruits such as avocado, citrus, tomato, guava, feijoa, grape, peppers, persimmon, pipfruit, berryfruit and stonefruit. 

It does not breed continuously but passes the winter in the adult stage. The total life cycle requires two to three weeks in summer and up to two months in autumn. Adult females live many months and four or five overlapping generations may develop annually. 

* Why is the fruit fly so dangerous?

Hard and expensive to control, fruit flies are commonly known as the “foot and mouth” of the horticultural industry. Once established, they are hard to eradicate. . .

Feds Farm Day this Sunday


Federated Farmers Farm Day is taking place this Sunday:

On Sunday 18 March 2012, six farms from around New Zealand will open their gates to the public as part of Federated Farmers Farm Day.  Over the last four years more than 12,000 people have visited a farm in their area.
This national event gives urban people a chance to see what goes on behind the farm gate and get a taste of the rural lifestyle. The farms range from  dairy  farms to meat and fibre operations.
This year each of the six participating provinces: Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Manawatu, Rotorua and the Bay of Plenty, have organised an array of fun filled activities, ranging from sheep shearing, working dog demonstrations, pony rides, milking demonstrations and scenic farm walks.
Federated Farmers Farm Day is in its fourth year. It was established to bridge the urban rural divide, giving both groups a chance to come together.

Farming is full of pleasant surprises and even more pleasant people, like Sue Brown, Federated Farmers Golden Bay Dairy chair. For establishing a farmer-led catchment project to improve water quality, Sue has just become a Landcare Ambassador for the NZ Landcare Trust. Water also links another Landcare ambassador, Andrew Hayes. Together with his wife Jenny, the Hayes invested substantial time and effort to improve peat lakes on their Waikato farm. This work also saw them win the Ministry for the Environment’s 2007 Green Ribbon Award for Rural Sustainability.

Right now, the regional finals for the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards and Young Farmers are all underway. Farmers rightly ask why such positive initiatives aren’t being rewarded with greater media attention. Bad news sells but too much of the negative creates unhelpful stereotypes. It’s time for balance.

Farm Day is our direct appeal to you, the public, to see farming for yourselves. We want to challenge stereotypes by giving you the chance to ask farmers how we manage nutrients and what we do with water. Ask whatever you like about animal welfare while seeing real farms in action. If you happen to be near Wellington, tap me on the shoulder at the Battle Hill Regional Park in Pauatahaui.

Sure we have some ratbags in our industry but it’s my hope people will go away surprised by how ‘green’ most farmers genuinely are. Only last month, 550 people attended the inaugural Canterbury Dairy Effluent Expo in Christchurch. Getting 550 people to any event is big, but one specifically on dairy effluent management? At DairyLink events in the Manawatu, which Federated Farmers is part of, water quality scientist Shirley Hayward is helping farmers to boost productivity while reducing their environmental footprint. Farmers take this seriously.

It’s so easy to forget that the bad news we see in the media is there because it is news while the good news stories, farmers looking after their stock well, improving their farms, taking care of soil and water, aren’t news because that’s what most do, day in and day out.

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