Rural round-up

01/04/2022

HWEN submission – Keith Woodford:

Readers of this website will be aware that I have been supportive of the HeWaka Eke Noa (HWEN) concept as an alternative to agriculture being included in the ETS (Emission trading System).  However I have been critical of what I regard as muddled thinking and poor communication of the HWEN proposals.

Accordingly, over the last ten days, I have come together with Graham Brown and Jane Smith to put together a joint submission on the path forward. This is laid out below, and also attached as a pdf.

I plan to write a further article setting out some of the challenges now facing HWEN, including managing internal tensions, together with emerging tensions between HWEN partners and Government Ministers, plus tension between HWEN and some industry groups.  It is indeed a complex situation!  However, that article is some days away. So here in the meantime I present the submission itself which the three of us, as well as submitting to HWEN itself, are now sharing with industry. . . 

Road access an issue after week long rain event  – Colin Williscroft:

One of the farms hit by the recent storms that damaged properties and rural roads across the Tairāwhiti and northern Hawke’s Bay regions received 1.2 metres of rain in a week, 700mm of which fell in a six-hour period.

Dan and Tam Jex-Blake are sheep and beef farmers whose property is about 55km southwest of Gisborne, at the top of Waingake Valley.

Dan said the rain began about midday on Monday, March 21, and didn’t really let up for the next seven days, although the real damage came on the Friday, when they received 700mm of rain in six hours, accompanied by 128km/h winds.

The fourth generation of his family on the farm, he said he’s never seen rain like it there before.

Given the amount of rain, he said the farm itself hasn’t fared too badly, with access across the property the biggest issue. . .

Dry south classified as medium scale adverse event – Neal Wallace:

The Government has classified the drought conditions in Southland and Clutha and Queenstown Lakes districts as a medium-scale adverse event, acknowledging the challenging conditions facing farmers and growers in the region.

The decision unlocks up to $100,000 in Government funding to support farmers and growers from now until October

“The funding will go to the Southland and Otago Rural Support Trusts to help with both one on one support and community events, with extra technical advice also available from industry groups, including feed planning advice,” Minister for Rural Communities Damien O’Connor said.

“Our primary sector is crucial to our economic recovery from covid-19. While currently returning record exports, the sector is exposed to climatic events and where we can support them through we will, while also working in partnership to strengthen the climate resilience of the sector in future.” . .

 

Ute tax here – no joke – Mark Daniel:

You can thank Jacinda Ardern for the latest price increase of any new ute you now buy.

Having passed its final reading on February 17, the Government’s Land Transport (Clean Vehicles) Amendment Bill, and the so-called feebate system, commences on April 1 – April Fool’s Day.

The scheme now expands on the 2021 teaser that saw the cleanest battery electric vehicles (BEV) being awarded a rebate of up to $8,625 on the purchase price. This resulted in a marked increase in sales of these vehicles.

However, at the same time there was also a significant rise in sales of the so-called ‘gas guzzlers’ – namely utes and SUVs – as owners tried to beat the proposed penalties scheduled to be introduced on 1 January 2022. The Government’s proposal to reduce the average CO2 output of all vehicles to 171 g/km was condemned by most of the country’s vehicle importers and distributors – not because of the intent, but the accelerated timescale to hit the magic 171 number as early as 2025. . . 

Rankin named DWN chair :

Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) has announced that 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year Trish Rankin will take up the role of chair.

Former chair Karen Forlong will remain on the Trust Board as the newly-appointed chair support.

“It goes without saying that it has been a humbling privilege to be the chair for the last two and a half years,” says Forlong.

“This new role will allow me to be there to support Trish and pass on knowledge from my time as chair, and to still have a voice around the board table to support the Network,” she says. . . 

Silver Fern Farms continues strong investment and transformation through disruption :

Note: the following information covers the results for two separate companies; Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Limited, and its investment, Silver Fern Farms Limited. Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Limited and Shanghai Maling Aquarius Limited are the equal joint owners of Silver Fern Farms Limited.

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative and its investment, Silver Fern Farms Limited, have today released their Annual Results for the 2021 year.

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Chair, Rob Hewett, says that while 2021 posed many challenges, Silver Fern Farms has continued its transformative investment programme across the business.

“The Board’s focus through 2021 has been providing stability through a continued period of change and uncertainty, but also ensuring the operating company continues to increase investment in sustainability, technology, and infrastructure for the long-term benefit of shareholders,” says Hewett. . . 


Rural round-up

09/02/2022

Staffing shortages cause processing delays – Neal Wallace:

Farmers already facing up to six weeks delay getting stock killed are being warned to prepare for a longer than usual season as the meat industry continues to struggle with staffing shortages.

Silver Fern Farms has warned suppliers that for the season to date the ovine kill is 8% behind the same stage last year and bovine by 3%.

“Early indications show that for most stock classes it will not be until July before we will catch up with current backlogs,” chief executive Simon Limmer told suppliers in the newsletter.

Just how late will depend on any impact of Omicron. . . 

Robots offer a tireless staffing option – Richard Rennie:

The prospect of autonomous robotic tractors has long been a lure for growers and farmers, often pushed beyond the bounds of reality by cost and existing technology. But a Blenheim company has been quietly building a fleet of automated machines that are proving their worth with one of the region’s largest winegrowers. Richard Rennie reports.

For any innovative agritech company, New Zealand’s small market size demands founders have an eye out from the start on their tech’s applicability in larger global markets. For the founders of the Oxin automated viticulture tractor, Marlborough has proven an appealing place to start, prior to making that international leap.

“We have been fortunate to have an excellent industry partner right from the start in Pernod, one of the largest grape growers in the region, but also one that has very strong international connections,” Smart Machine director Andrew Kersley said.

Blenheim’s unique concentration of 35,000ha of vineyards, grown primarily by only a few large industry players, makes the company’s ability to showcase the technology, and get it dispersed, a simpler task.  . . 

Stud owners ready for a new chapter – Sally Rae:

For more than a century, the Punchbowl name has been synonymous with stud sheep breeding in North Otago.

But a new chapter is looming for its current owners, Doug and Jeannie Brown, who are holding ewe dispersal sales in Oamaru this month.

It was Mr Brown’s grandfather Henry (HJ) Andrew — a legendary figure in the stud sheep industry — who came to Punchbowl, near Maheno, in 1915 after graduating from Lincoln College.

Originally from the Leeston area, he shifted south with his parents and began breeding Southdowns. Over time, his Southdown stud became very prominent at a time when Southdowns were the main terminal sire breed in New Zealand. He exported sheep to many parts of the world and also imported sires. . . 

Seeds of traceability in digital move – Tim Cronshaw:

Arable growers will enter the digital world for their seed certification this month.

All the paperwork will be replaced by online entries in a $2million industry and government investment, which industry chiefs have called a watershed moment.

About $400million of certified seed crops — including brassicas, herbage grasses and legumes — will be checked throughout their growing cycle for quality control and consistency by about 800 growers, seed merchants and Assure Quality inspectors.

New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association manager Thomas Chin said the app-based system would provide traceability so quality assurances could be given to overseas markets that export seed shipments leaving the country were ‘‘true-to-label’’. . . 

Potato milk hits UK supermarket shelves :

Described as “deliciously creamy” and the “perfect foam” for your cuppa, potato milk is the latest contender to the plant milk market.

Milk developer at Lund University professor Eva Tornberg said she was working with a potato starch company in Sweden when she came up with the idea.

The amino acid composition of potato protein is much like milk and egg, she said.

“I thought perhaps it would be good to use potato protein to make a milk.” . . 

Farmer who flipped car cleared of criminal damage because ‘Englishman’s home is his castle’ – Martin Evans:

A farmer who wrecked a car parked on his land with a tractor has been cleared of criminal damage after he successfully used the 400-year-old legal principle that “an Englishman’s home is his castle”.

Robert Hooper, 57, became an internet sensation in June last year, when a video of him using the spikes on his telehandler to flip a £16,000 Vauxhall Corsa went viral on social media.

The hill farmer from Upper Teesdale said he had been forced to take action after he came under attack from a “strutting and agitated” shirtless youth, who had refused to move the car from his land.

Mr Hooper said he did not call police because he had been burgled eight times and found they were often slow to respond. . . 


Rural round-up

22/01/2022

Audit solutions won’t work against climate change – look to the practical – Eric Roy:

It’s encouraging to have some better acceptance of the need to address climate change. What is frustrating is the lack of meaningful engagement and the absence of applied science to find solutions.

It has largely been slogans and talk fests combined with finger pointing as to who the worst perpetrators are by country and by sector.

I’m no doubt biased. I’m a farmer and I take exception to some hyperbole levelled at the industry which largely creates the bulk of the wealth that pays for so much of the social needs and services of our country.

New Zealand is the most efficient food producer in the world. . . 

Meat industry warns a Covid-19 Omicron outbreak among its 15,000 workers would have a significant impact during peak season – Karen Coltman:

New Zealand meat plants are bracing for a wave of staff illness if the Omicron Covid-19 variant hits as they head into peakprocessing season

Silver Fern Farms said chief executive Simon Limmer ​said the timing was bad because its peak workforce of 7000 was already 550 short, and he wanted the Government to re-examine its border rules for seasonal workers.

Good weather conditions had alleviated pressure on farmers who had more feed than usual, but that could change.

“Any significant dry period from this point on, coupled with labour-related capacity reductions, will create livestock pressure on farm,” Limmer said. . . 

Young farmer outstanding in her field – Sharon Cain:

Katie Watson reckons she has always been a bit of an animal mad person. Sharon Cain reports.

Growing up on a lifestyle property at Otorohanga with pet lambs, calves and goats and spending time on the family farm in the school holidays has given her a great love for farming and the outdoors.

Watson’s first on farm working experience came in 2011 at the age of 15. She was in year 11 at school and while her friends were getting part-time jobs in cafes and supermarkets, being quite shy she was freaked out at the thought of working with people. With the help from her livestock agent dad, Owen, she got a job with a nearby dairy farmer who taught her how to milk cows.

During her last year of school, Watson did not have a clue what she wanted to do for a career. Following a discussion with a career advisor, she chose to study an Agricultural Science degree at Lincoln University. For the next four years, she surrounded herself with like-minded people who had the same interests. . .

Listen to the land – Diana Dobson:

Sir Ian Taylor may be a pioneer in technology and animation, but it is from the past he draws his strength and innovation.

A keynote speaker for February’s East Coast Farming Expo, the lad from Raupunga brings a fresh perspective to the effect of Covid on our planet, and how to put our country on track for a sustainable future.

Sir Ian’s company Animation Research created platforms that give a real-time, 3D, bird’s eye view of the America’s Cup, among other sports. It is lauded as one of the world’s leading sports graphics companies.

During the pandemic, he has constantly pushed the Government on MIQ, their response to Covid and the future of New Zealand. . .

Kelston orchards opens new multi-purpose cool store and packhouse :

Family-owned business, Kelston Orchards Ltd, has more than doubled the size of its Hawke’s Bay packhouse and cool store in response to increased global demand for New Zealand apples.

Located in the heart of New Zealand’s apple growing region, Kelston Orchards packs fresh apples grown on their 15 orchards and also provides post-harvest services to some of the largest growers in the Hawke’s Bay.

The new fully racked 1,200 square metre finished goods cool store has the capacity to hold 1600 pallets, adding to the current 3000 square metre, 12000 bin store , while the state-of-the-art 2,500 square metre packhouse facility features a multi-lane feeding and optical grading system capable of handling 60 bins per hour.

With technology developed in France by MAF Roda agrobitoics, the facility includes a high performance handling system which ensures apples are managed delicately and quality is not compromised at any point during the process. When not packing apples for export, the packhouse will also be used to support local summerfruit growers. . . 

John Deere’s driverless tractor have hit bump in the road – Brian Henderson:

Excitement ran high in the farming media last week when the second biggest tractor company in the world, John Deere, announced that they were soon to release their first autonomous tractor on to the market.

For, while we’ve all grown used to the ‘hands-free’ option available with GPS auto-steer guidance systems on our big pieces of machinery, taking that a step further and having little more to do to cultivate a field than to drive the tractor down there and then just let it get on with it would certainly appeal to many.

Well, I say many but there still remains a hardcore of tractor fanatics who would happily spend each and every day ensconsed in their cosy cab, driving up and down the same field or racing about the roads with beacons ablaze.

And some of these fan-boys devote the sort of level of support to one brand or colour equalled only on the pre-Covid football terraces or in the stands at the six nations matches. . . 


For want of workers . . .

19/01/2022

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

The problem in New Zealand is not a shortage of horse shoe nails but a dire shortage of workers:

A critical lack of workers in New Zealand is pushing the meat industry to plead with the Government to urgently allow in more overseas staff.

Major meat processor and exporter Silver Fern Farms says it’s one of the most challenging years to date for accessing skilled labour. It says that the company’s plants are not fully manned and warns that livestock may not be able to be killed – especially if it gets dry – risking hard-fought international markets and valuable export revenue for the country.

“We are presently about 550 people short across our processing network. We have a number of initiatives underway to help address this, including raising our minimum productive rate by 10%,” SFF chief executive Simon Limmer told Rural News.

“However, we are constrained by the historic low unemployment rate here and the reality is that bringing in overseas workers is going to need to be part of the solution. In particular, we’ve been asking the Government to allow us to bring in AIP workers from the Pacific Islands. We’ve had this successful arrangement for 12 years, and it has increased production levels here as well as providing these workers and their family excellent earnings.” . . .

Staff shortages are delaying lamb processing. Feed covers have been good, lessening pressure to get stock away form farms, but recent dry weather could change that.

“The kill profile is late this season and any significant dry period from this point on, coupled with labour-related capacity reductions, will create livestock pressure on farm.”

Alliance Group’s general manager of manufacturing Willie Wiese told Rural News that NZ’s meat processing and exporting sector has a chronic labour shortage and this has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Without sufficient labour, we cannot run our plants at the desired capacity,” he says. “The border closure, as well as the limited managed isolation spots, have prevented us from employing seasonal workers from overseas to help make up the shortfall in numbers we can recruit locally.”

Wiese says Alliance Group is currently between 200-300 workers short during what is an extremely busy processing period, in particular for the Easter chilled programme for the UK and Europe.

“Importantly, we require additional halal butchers. Over 90% of animals are processed in the halal manner because that provides f greater flexibility to send different parts of the same carcass to various markets. That means fewer opportunities for hardworking Kiwis and fewer value-add products going to our markets.” . . 

Prices for red meat are reasonably good this season but that could easily change.

“Building valuable relationships with customers takes time and is underlined by consistently delivering on a commitment to supply product to customer specifications. These relationships are hard won but easily lost when customers have many global choices for supply, and when we don’t have the labour capacity to enable us to deliver to customers’ needs and return greater value to farmers.” . . 

The dairy industry is also short of staff:

Dairy farmers say they urgently need 1,500 overseas workers within the next six months.

While farmers are happy with changes announced last month to the existing class border exception for 200 dairy workers, they desperately need more skilled workers from overseas.

Farmers were happy with the announcement but like so many form this government, the announcement wasn’t followed by action.

Federated Farmers immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says the dairy sector cannot afford another calving season without skilled staff.

“We urgently need reinforcements,” he told Rural News. “We have managed two calving seadons by cutting corners. Staff are burnt out, stress levels are very high and another calving season like the past two years will result in some sad statistics.”

Securing MIQ spots remains the biggest hurdle to get workers into the country. Of the 200 border exceptions for dairy workers issued last year, only a handful arrived in the country. . . 

Border exceptions were welcomed but that’s only the first step in getting workers into the country.

However, Lewis says border exceptions are useless unless the overseas workers can secure MIQ spots.

“I suspect the electric driverless tractor would make a appearance quicker than a MIQ outcome. Border exception is just the first part of the process of getting the overseas workers in,” says Lewis.

Employers and their workers are still faced with a complex and lengthy process to get employees into New Zealand and working on farms.

“Employers and their workers will need to work closely with their respective industry groups to sort MIQ, flights and all the associated paperwork.

“This is not an easy or cheap task for either party, but with unemployment at such low levels this is really the only option for much of the primary industries at the moment.” . . 

Rural contractors are similarly frustrated:

Despite rural contractors being told in mid-December they could bring in 200 skilled machinery operators into the country, not one has been given any MIQ space.

Rural Contractors NZ chief executive Andrew Olsen describes getting MIQ space as like peeling an onion.

“It’s layer after layer and it brings tears of frustration for our members who are already working impossibly long hours and as yet have not even been able to lodge Expressions of Interest for staff positions, which Ministers had approved to come in.”

Olsen says despite the best efforts of MPI staff to help find MIQ beds for the approved operators, the indications now are that few, if any, will be available until March at the earliest for rural contractors.

“This will mean many of them will pass on the option to bring workers in. It’s just too late, too hard and too stressful for contractors who are working their guts out trying to help farmers get in crops and ensure animals can be fed.” 

Olsen says RCNZ and Federated Farmers, supported by MPI, have done everything they could to help contractors meet a crushing labour shortage.

“We understand and respect that the resurgence of another Covid variant and border entry changes have put the squeeze on MIQ,” he adds. “That said, those risks would have been part of the assessment when we had Ministerial approval just on a month ago to bring in the desperately needed 200 machinery operators.”

Olsen says rural contractors whose work is essential to food production and our export economy, find themselves towards the back of the MIQ queue.

Olsen is now calling on the Ministers of Immigration and Agriculture and the Prime Minister’s Office to act.

“We received approval December 12 and now more than a month on we’re looking at another two months before the first arrivals,” he adds. . . 

Harvesting is well under way. Workers are needed now and the shortage will put pressure on existing staff which will increase the risk of accidents and crop wastage.

Primary industries have been one of few bright spots in the export sector.

When the other big export earner – tourism – is in the doldrums with little hope of a turn around in the short to medium term, the need for farming and horticulture to be operating at their peaks is even greater than normal.

The government has been warned about the worker shortage and the consequences of it and last month’s announcement of more MIQ spots gave employers hope.

But like so many other of its announcements it has failed to deliver and so for want of workers primary production and processing are under unsustainable stress.


Rural round-up

12/12/2021

Shipping delays and staff shortages bite the meat industry – Rachael Kelly:

Farmers are starting to struggle to get stock killed because staff shortages and shipping woes are causing major issues in the meat industry.

Ben Dooley, a farmer from Mimihau in Southland, said he had 200 ewes booked in with Alliance Group next week, but he was worried about finding more space for stock in the coming months.

“It’s definitely concerning. If this shipping container issue doesn’t get sorted out then we’re going to have some big problems in the next few months.”

The Alliance Group and Silver Fern Farms both say chronic labour shortages and global supply chain issues were causing problems. . .

Cheap accommodation, social sport used to entice workers for orchard jobs – Sally Murphy:

Efforts to attract workers to pick and pack fruit this summer are heating up – with more employers offering incentives to attract workers.

On the PickNZ website where orchards and packhouses advertise jobs, 42 percent are offering accommodation and 30 percent are offering bonuses.

Just under 20 percent are offering transport, social events and flexible working hours.

One company advertising on the site is Clyde Orchards. . . 

Fonterra’s Hurrell says New Zealand milk is the most valuable in the world – Tina Morrison:

New Zealand’s grass-fed farming model makes the country’s milk the most valuable in the world, Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell told farmers at the co-operative’s annual meeting in Invercargill.

Since taking over from Theo Spierings, Hurrell has moved Fonterra away from expanding its milk pools overseas, and brought the focus back to getting more value from the “white gold” produced by New Zealand farmers. His shift in strategy comes at a time when consumers are wanting to know more about where their food comes from and the environmental impact it leaves.

“We believe New Zealand milk is the most valuable milk in the world due to our grass-fed farming model, which means our milk has a carbon footprint around 70 per cent lower than the global average,” Hurrell told farmers. . .

 

River restoration starting to flow – Colin Williscroft:

The Manawatū River Leaders’ Forum recently won the supreme award at the 2021 Cawthron New Zealand River Awards for the catchment that has made the most progress towards improved river health. Colin Williscroft reports.

In a little over a decade, the Manawatū River has gone from being identified through Cawthron Institute research as one of the most polluted in the western world to that same organisation now celebrating the work being done to clean it up.

The Manawatū River Leaders’ Forum was established in 2010 in response to freshwater health problems facing the catchment.

The previous year Cawthron research showed the river topped a pollution measurement taken on 300 rivers across North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand for all the wrong reasons. . .

Kiwifruit companies to amalgamate :

Seeka announces third amalgamation in 2021

 Gisborne growers will be delivered a stronger service with the proposed amalgamation of NZ Fruits and Seeka Limited.

In an agreement announced 10 December 2021, NZ Fruits shareholders are being offered Seeka shares and cash for their NZ Fruits shares. Seeka chief executive Michael Franks says the deal will enable Seeka to service the Gisborne region.

“The amalgamation will deliver a strong service to Gisborne growers,” says Franks. . . 

Research aims to develop more resilient sauvignon blanc vines :

An $18.7 million programme is aiming to introduce genetic diversity of New Zealand’s sauvignon blanc grapevines.

The Bragato Research Institute is partnering with New Zealand Winegrowers, more than 20 wine companies and the NZ Viticulture Nursery Association on the seven-year programme.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor the vines were based on one clone which presented some risk.

“Developing improved, commercially-available variants of this grape variety will also act as an industry insurance policy against future risks from pests, disease and changing markets. . . 


Rural round-up

04/10/2021

Shearer aiming to take jeans product to world stage – Sally Rae:

Could Woolies Jeans be the next Allbirds? Jovian Cummins certainly hopes so.

The young New Zealand entrepreneur, at present shearing in Western Australia, is launching an equity crowdfunding campaign on the platform PledgeMe on Monday.

He hopes to raise up to $500,000 to help him patent the designs for the merino-lined jeans for workwear and help build a supply chain.

The genesis for the business came in a woolshed in 2018 when the then 22-year-old decided he was “fed up” with the hot and sweaty jeans he was wearing, he said. . .

The future of farming: What will NZ’s agri sector look like in 20 years? – Catherine Harris:

One thing you can be certain about in the agricultural sector iis that it’s always changing. Adaption is a constant for farmers, as sure as the weather.

But the challenges farming is currently facing are some of the greatest the sector’s ever had: climate change, environmental constraints, labour shortages and shipping issues.

Which raises a question: will these be the same challenges farming is facing in 10 or 20 years?

The Government has already been contemplating this question. Last June, the Ministry for Primary Industries put out “Fit for a better world,” a game plan to accelerate farming’s potential. . . 

Biosecurity finalists protecting every corner of New Zealand:

The 2021 Biosecurity Awards finalists named today show the huge effort under way to protect New Zealand from pests and diseases.

The 24 finalists named out of a record number of 90 entries include an iwi partnering with local and central government to eradicate wilding pines from their local taonga, Ruawāhia/Mount Tarawera, and a school on Stewart Island/Rakiura whose efforts are keeping Ulva Island pest free.

Biosecurity efforts have even expanded into space, with Xerra Earth Observation Institute’s leading-edge software which is helping protect Aotearoa from pests via international shipping.

Judging panel chairman Dr Ed Massey says the finalists represent a diverse range of individuals, teams, businesses, government agencies, research organisations, iwi, schools and community groups. . . 

Migrant groups are urgently call ing on the government to include Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers:

The government announced a one-off pathway to residency for several temporary work visas however are excluding a large group of migrants. Migrant groups are urgently calling on the Government to include Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers in the new immigration policy, before it is released. RSEs contribute significantly to Aotearoa’s economy and wellbeing through the work that they have been employed to do.

Most of the RSE workers have been in Aotearoa for at least five consecutive years since the scheme began in 2007. They have boosted the economic growth and productivity levels in the horticulture and viticulture industries. In 2007, New Zealand’s annual export earnings prior to the scheme were $2.6 billion dollars. In 2020, the earnings from the horticulture and viticulture industry were $9.2 billion dollars. The RSE workers were significant contributors to this growth.

The RSE scheme contributes an estimated $34-40 million NZD into the Pacific through remittances and in the period of the pandemic, this is critical to the livelihoods of households across the Pacific region. Aotearoa’s commitment to the Pacific relationship needs to be shown through its support of the RSE workers. . . 

The history of DWN:

Did you know that Dairy Women’s Network began as an email group?

Our story starts when Hilary Webber became a director of the New Zealand Dairy Group and saw women working at the ‘coalface’ of dairy. They were the ones carrying buckets, rearing calves, doing the accounts, raising their families, and supporting their rural communities. But in the boardrooms of dairy companies, the women were almost invisible.

Hilary wasn’t the only one to feel this way and do something about it. Joined by Christina Baldwin, Robyn Clements and dairy farmer Willy Geck, they got funding from Wrightson’s to send Hillary to Washington, where she attended the 1998 International Women in Agriculture Conference along with Willy and the wife of the NZ diplomat to the US. It was at the conference that they heard women described as the ‘silent heroes of agriculture’, which reinforced the need for DWN.

The conference revealed four key things: . . 

Silver Fern Farms to halve  coal use :

Silver Fern Farms welcomes $1 million co-funding from the Government Investment in Decarbonising Industry (GIDI) Fund for a $2.6 million coal-out project at its Pareora processing site, south of Timaru, as a significant boost to achieve the company’s commitment to end all coal use by 2030.

The Pareora heat-pump conversion project is the company’s third successful project under the GIDI fund and represents another important step in Silver Fern Farms’ commitment to playing a leadership role in driving sustainability in the red meat sector.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive, Simon Limmer, said Silver Fern Farms was committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the company’s value chain.

“The work we are doing to reduce the environmental impact of our processing operations is just one of the ways we’re making sure we do the right thing by our customers, who increasingly want to know that their red meat is sustainably produced. . . 


Rural round-up

28/08/2021

Feds: Be targeted, not revolutionary, about RMA change –  Simon Edwards:

Federated Farmers has called for “extreme caution” in repealing or re-writing the Resource Management Act.

Targeted and focused change, rather than wholesale replacement, would provide the ability to make changes to address problems with the RMA whilst minimising the disruption to 30 years’ of case law, to councils, resource users and communities, Feds said a submission to the Environment Select Committee.

An independent economic assessment of the proposed Natural and Built Environments Act (NBA) warns of higher costs and more uncertainty.

Federated Farmers commissioned Douglas Birnie, Director of Enfocus to assess the economic implications of the NBA, the first of three new pieces of legislation planned to replace the RMA. His assessment is that the resource management approach proposed in the NBA risks: . . 

Pāmu reports a 29 million after tax profit:

A strong year for its dairy and forestry portfolios has seen the state owned farmer, Pāmu, report a $29 million after tax profit.

The company which owns about 200 farms said total revenue was $250 million – with the milk cheque accounting for half of all farm operating revenue.

Chief executive Steve Carden said the company was still hit with covid-19 disruptions such as lower prices for some red meat categories.

But as a diversified farming business, its capacity to offset any downsides in year on year returns with upsides across other aspects of its portfolio is growing. . . 

Food-derived opioids are a medical frontier – Keith Woodford:

In late 2020, I was invited to write a paper on food derived-opioids for the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, with a focus including effects on microbiota.  Eight months later and the paper has been written, then refereed by three scientists chosen by the journal, then modified in response to the referees’ critiques and now published. The paper draws on and integrates evidence from 125 prior-published papers. It is available online via a link at the end of this post.

The key messages are that food-derived opioids from A1 beta-casein and also from gluten are a medical frontier, with clear evidence that they affect the microbiota in our digestive system, but also linking within a complex system to the brain and multiple internal organs.

Fundamental to this system is the widespread presence of opioid receptors to which the food-derived opioids attach. These opioid receptors are present in the brain, intestines, pancreas, lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, adrenal glands and many other places.

The natural role of opioid receptors is as part of the internal messaging system between the gut, brain, internal organs and peripheral tissues. But when external opioids are consumed, either in the form of drugs or within food, then the internal messaging is disrupted. The body then reacts to this in multiple ways, including inflammation and autoimmune responses. . . 

Good Progress on intensive winter grazing rules:

The Government’s confirmation it is shelving the unworkable pugging and sowing date rules in its latest intensive winter grazing proposal is positive for farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) says.

The controversial pugging and resowing date rules have been replaced with a practical management approach under the revised intensive winter grazing proposals, which have just been released for public consultation.

“We, and other industry groups, have for some time been calling on the Government to replace the pugging and sowing date rules with sensible and pragmatic alternatives,” says Sam McIvor, chief executive of B+LNZ.

“It is positive for farmers that we now have clarity on the proposed approach in this area, which aligns with the recommendations of the Southland Winter Grazing advisory group last December. . .

Mānuka honey sales in US and China drives profit for Comvita :

The listed honey producer Comvita is crediting strong growth in Mānuka sales to the US and China for helping drive a return to profit.

Reported net profit after tax was $9.5 million, compared to a loss of $9.7 million in the previous year.

Comvita said the 2021 financial year had been a crucial one for the company, as it looked to prove the businessess’ significant potential.

In 2020 the company completed a strategic review and chief executive David Banfield said the business had gone through significant change in order to arrive at this point. . . 

Non-urgent veterinary appointments on hold:

Non-urgent veterinary appointments on hold until COVID-19 levels reduce

While veterinarians are still providing care and treatment for animals during lockdown, it’s far from business as usual.

According to two of Aotearoa’s key veterinary organisations, the Veterinary Council of New Zealand (VCNZ) and the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA), COVID-19 restrictions have changed how animals, as well as people, receive healthcare.

“Under Alert Level 4 restrictions, veterinarians can only provide care that can’t be postponed,” according to the Council’s Veterinary Advisor Dr Seton Butler. “As a result, non-urgent healthcare, routine vaccinations and regular checks need to be postponed until the situation changes.” . . 

Enviromark diamond certification for Silver Fern Farms:

Enviromark diamond certification reflects Silver Fern Farms’ commitment to sustainability best practice

Silver Fern Farms has achieved Toitū enviromark diamond certification, the highest New Zealand-based environmental certification. This represents another important step in Silver Fern Farms’ commitment to playing a leadership role in driving sustainability in the red meat sector.

Enviromark diamond is recognised internationally as equivalent to ISO 14001 accreditation, and to achieve enviromark diamond certification New Zealand companies in fact need to exceed some ISO requirements.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer said achieving enviromark diamond is a massive endorsement for the company’s systems and the ways it is managing environmental impacts and risk. . . 

 


Rural round-up

22/08/2021

Primary producers charter ships to beat global ports logjam – Jonathan Milne:

A bold proposal for the Government to invest in shipping charters has been put on ice, as ministers watch to see whether exporters can work together to get their produce to international markets.

New Zealand’s biggest fruit, meat and seafood producers are paying up to double the odds to charter ships to the lucrative markets of Asia, Europe and the USA.

It will add to the consumer price of this country’s food in Northern Hemisphere supermarket chillers or cut into export margins – but for some producers, the alternative is dumping their produce.

The international supply chain crisis, getting supplies in and exports out, has become critical. It’s understood the Government was in industry talks to intervene, floating the radical solution of buying or chartering its own ships like the late Prime Minister Norman Kirk’s NZ Shipping Corporation. . .

A delay getting lambs to the meat works could cost farmers if lockdown drags on – Bonnie Flaws:

Farmers should get stock away to the meat works as early as possible because the risk to the supply chain is growing by the day, Silver Fern Farms supply chain manager Dan Boulton says.

Level 4 lockdown could lead to delays at the works depending on how long it continued and farmers could face problems if they waited, he said.

But he said the timing of the current lockdown was better than last year’s because livestock numbers were low. Lamb numbers were down between 20 per cent and 30 per cent nationally.

“That tells me farmers are sitting on lambs chasing higher prices. There’s a real risk with that as capacity may not be there. And as we get into the main season there is a risk there will be problems with the volume coming at us.” . .

Climate change work on track – Colin Williscroft:

Concerns about the effectiveness of Overseer by an independent panel will have little effect on agriculture climate change partnership He Waka Eke Noa, which is well on track to meeting its targets.

Programme director for the partnership between Government, industry and Māori Kelly Forster says Overseer is on its list of approved tools when it comes to raising awareness of farmers knowing their greenhouse gas (GHG) numbers and having a plan to measure and manage their emissions, but He Waka Eke Noa does not look at it as a regulatory tool and its ability to provide real-time data, which is the problem raised by the panel.

“We’ve said it’s suitable for building awareness, for getting an understanding of tracking direction,” Forster said. . .

How to keep safe during milking in a lockdown – Sudesh Kissun:

DairyNZ has developed advice, tools and resources to support dairy farmers and their teams to farm safely during the Covid lockdown.

It urges farmers to keep themselves and their employees safe at milking during COVID-19 with the following tips:

“We know from medical professionals that Covid-19 stays on surfaces for at least 72 hours and is transferred via droplets. This means that we have to be extra vigilant with the hygiene of our shared work surfaces, and that we must maintain a distance of two metres from others to minimise its spread over the next four weeks of lockdown.

“Traditionally, and especially in our herringbone milking platforms, we worked closely together and with no disinfection of our surfaces. To keep everyone safe, we now need to make changes to how we milk

Farmer protest a time for reflection – Melissa Slattery:

I also loved hearing farmers were dropping into foodbanks on their travels and donating some farmer goodness; that’s just such great stuff to hear and a great outcome for the day.

There’s no doubt the protest arose out of frustration. Many farmers are feeling overwhelmed by too many regulations, coming in too fast. There is a lot to consider and often the timeframes are too short to allow meaningful consultation.

As farmers, we’d rather not get bogged in politics. We’d much rather look ahead at what we can do to continue running progressive, environmentally sustainable and successful businesses into the future.  . .

Victorian agriculture still looks to horses – Rebecca Nadge:

While many sectors in agriculture have adopted technologies to improve efficiency, there are some places where traditional horsepower is still the best way to go.

Cobungra station, Omeo, was established in the 1850s and has both freehold and grazing leases across 30,000 hectares.

The station runs Full Blood Wagyu, and British breeds to use as recipients for an embryo transfer program

Station manager Bruce Guaran said almost all mustering was carried out on horseback. . . 


Rural round-up

10/07/2021

Labour shifts goalposts on forestry goal, its first policy of 2020 campaign – Thomas Coughlan:

Labour has quietly shifted the goalposts on its first campaign promise of the 2020 campaign, a policy that would make it more difficult to plant swathes of prime food-producing land in trees to harvest carbon credits.

Last July, Labour’s rural communities spokesman Kieran McAnulty and Forestry spokesman Stuart Nash promised that within six months of the next Government being formed, Labour would amend National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry to allow councils to determine for themselves what classes of land can be used for plantation and carbon forests.

Resource consent would have been required for plantation forests to be grown on land known as “elite soils”, land which has a Land Use Capability Class of 1-5. Land of a higher ranking, deemed less essential for food production, could still be used for forestry as now. . .

Rural vaccine availability fears:  ‘I think we are being disadvantaged’

There are fears rural communities in the south may be left behind during the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

Community leaders say there has been scant information about when vulnerable populations in remote areas can expect to be inoculated.

The Southern DHB said more clinics would open by the end of July in remote areas so no one was more than an hour from the nearest clinic.

Fiordland Community Board chair Sarah Greaney said despite group 3 – those over 65 or at greater risk from Covid-19 – being eligible for the vaccine, the nearest clinic at present was 140km away in Gore. . . 

Breakthrough in Hawkes Bay Bay TB response – Sally Murphy:

The animal health agency working to eradicate TB in the Hawkes Bay has gained access to two large forestry blocks in order to cull possums.

OSPRI is working to eradicate the disease – which is spread mainly by possums and can compromise immune systems in stock, causing serious production losses and animal welfare issues.

There are currently 18 herds infected with Bovine TB in the region – but there are also 572 herds under restricted movement controls – which means those farmers can’t move stock off farm without approval – which is a source of great frustration for some in the area.

During the response OSPRI has had trouble getting approval from some land owners to carry out pest control work, which can involve 1080 drops. . . 

David Grant is Federated Farmers Arable Farmer of the Year:

Mid Canterbury Arable Farmer David Grant was awarded the “Federated Farmers Arable Farmer of the Year Award 2021” at the arable industry awards in Christchurch tonight.

David’s contribution to the industry through is work with the Foundation for Arable Research, and in innovation and information sharing, made him an outstanding candidate for this year’s award, Feds Arable chair Colin Hurst said.

The Arable Farmer of the Year Award is designed to recognise a member who excels at arable farming and to acknowledge the standard of excellence they set for the industry. . . 

Silver Fern Farms commits to its course for a sustainable future:

Net Carbon Zero Certified* Beef, Regenerative Agriculture and the elimination of coal by 2030; today, Silver Fern Farms has committed to several bold initiatives to drive its vision of being the world’s most successful and sustainable grass-fed red meat company.

Silver Fern Farms Co-Chair, Rob Hewett, said it was after a significant amount of work and with real satisfaction the company was in the position to make these commitments publicly.

“We have set targets to stretch us, but we are ready for the challenge. If anything, we are committed to investing to accelerate our progress to achieve these significant milestones early. . . 

Savvy commercial partners sought for novel Australian oat products :

Australian oat noodles and oat ‘rice’ are set to become popular pantry staples here and overseas, once new manufacturing processes developed by the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) are matched with the right commercial partners.

AEGIC is looking for food brands, manufacturers or investors who can fast-track getting the new healthy plant-based products to market, and help move oats beyond the breakfast table to becoming an option for lunch, dinner and snacks.

Developed from Australian oats, which are high in beta glucan, the new products offer superior nutritional benefits.

AEGIC’s oat rice has twice as much dietary fibre than other white and brown rices, fewer carbohydrates, more protein, and a greater concentration of healthy unsaturated fatty acids. . . 

Boosting agricultural insurance based on earth observation data and blockchain technology:

BEACON advances the inclusion of EO satellites within the AgI processes and adopts a smart contract and blockchain technology which will low the operational and administrative costs by transforming traditional processes to automated ones.

Agricultural Insurance (AgI) is the most weather-dependent sector among insurance services. The premiums’ calculations and the development of new products are highly depending on the continuously changing climate and the high variability of extreme weather events, for which such historic records are absent or not sufficiently accurate. In addition, the damage assessment and the handling of claims is rather costly including high operational and administrative costs since the verification of a claim requires on-the-spot inspections. Most of the times, the results of such inspections are controversial, since the final estimations are performed by inspectors who by human nature are less objective. . . 


Rural round-up

05/07/2021

Southland MP Joseph Mooney invites Green Party co-leader James Shaw to Southland to meet Groundswell NZ – Rachael Kelly:

Farmer protest group Groundswell NZ said it would ‘’most definitely’’ meet with Green Party co-leader James Shaw if he accepted an invitation to visit Southland.

Southland MP Joseph Mooney wants to extend an invitation to Shaw to the province to meet with the group, who he says Shaw ‘’unfairly vilified in the media this week”.

A spokesperson from Shaws’ office said: ‘’Joseph Mooney is welcome to send an invitation to the Minister, and it will be considered alongside all the others we receive.’’

Shaw admitted for the first time this week that it was Groundswell he was referring to in an interview with Ngati Hine FM last month, when he referred to ‘’a group of pākehā farmers from down south’’ who were ‘’always pushing back against the idea that they should observe any kind of regulation about what they can do to protect the environment”. . . .

B+LNZ launched emissions calculator – Neal Wallace:

The sheep and beef industry have taken a significant step towards managing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emission obligations, with the launch of an emissions calculator for farmers.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has released the free-to-use calculator, which takes information about a farm and stock numbers and applies science and data about average emissions at national, regional and farm system level to calculate on-farm emissions and sequestration.

It has been funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership and endorsed by the Meat Industry Association (MIA), AFFCO NZ, Alliance Group, ANZCO Foods, Blue Sky Meats, Greenlea Premier Meats, Ovation NZ, Progressive Meats, Silver Fern Farms, Taylor Preston, Te Kuiti Meats, Universal Beef Packers and Wilson Hellaby NZ.

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says the calculator has been independently assessed as meeting the requirements for calculating emissions under the He Waka Eke Noa programme and agreement with the Government. . . 

Fences fixed first as farmers count cost of flooding – Country Life:

Farmers in Mid-Canterbury say it could take months and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to clean up the mess on their farms following last month’s massive flooding.

It’s been an extremely challenging situation for neighbouring farmers Anne-Marie Allen and Chrissie Wright, who say they are still trying to get their heads around the scale of the damag of Anne-Marie and her husband Chris’s farm resemble a bombsite.

Their six-hectare water storage pond is destroyed, fences are buried, machinery has been damaged and logs, branches, rocks, gravel and up to a metre of silt have been dumped on the Ashburton Forks property. . .

M bovis eradication on track – Annette Scott:

The next few months will be busy for the Mycoplasma bovis programme as it winds closer to a successful nationwide eradication of the disease.

Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor is confident the programme is on track to eradicate the disease from New Zealand in the next five years.

“The programme has been refined and improved, the science and practice on the ground has helped get us to where we are now, just a pocket of five infected properties,” O’Connor said.

But, he says, the next few months will be busy and crucial. . . 

Farmers helping Meat the Need charity via Silver Fern Farms – Linda Hall:

Mince — it must be the most versatile red meat you can buy.

Most people would be able to come up with a nutritious meal by just adding some flavour and vegetables. It goes a long way and it’s reasonably priced.

However, there are many people out there who still can’t afford to buy enough food to feed their family.

It’s not surprising that the need for food parcels is growing with the price of housing and accommodation skyrocketing — and there’s no end in sight. . .

Scottish pig sector ‘at risk’ due to unfair supply chain practice :

The future of the Scottish pig industry is at risk due to continued unfair supply chain practices, NFU Scotland has warned.

It has written to Pilgrim’s, the processing partner of Scotland’s largest abattoir in Brechin, to urge them to stop operating pricing practices that ‘threaten’ the sector.

Farmers had ‘serious concerns’ resulting from the ‘uncompetitive price’ paid by Pilgrim’s for pigs going to the Brechin abattoir.

“The price is uncompetitive compared to alternative market routes,” NFU Scotland president Martin Kennedy said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

20/06/2021

Canty navigates post-flood infrastructure woes – Annette Scott:

Time is ticking for high country farmers rebuilding access infrastructure to get stock off their properties before the snow sets in.

Ravaged by the Canterbury flood event, three weeks on and high country farmers are grappling with greater than usual isolation as they wait for washed out roads and bridges to be repaired.

The biggest concern being to get stock out before the snow sets in.

“Usually in the first three weeks of June we would have had our first decent snow dump,” Erewhon Station farmer Colin Drummond said. . .

How will be Beef and Lamb vote break? – David Anderson:

Farmers around the country will vote soon on whether or not Beef+Lamb NZ will retain its right to continue to levy them and fund its operations.

However, BLNZ is facing a battle as it fights against typical farmer apathy when it comes to such votes, and a growing level of discontent among its levy payer about the industry organisation’s performance. David Anderson looks into the issues…

The powerbrokers at Beef+Lamb NZ may very well have a feeling of déjà vu with the organisation facing growing intensitities of farmer disgruntlement as its levy vote fast approaches. . . 

Supply chain drag on US beef bonanza – Hugh Stringleman:

Strong imported manufacturing beef demand and high prices in the United States are not being passed fully through to cattle farmers in New Zealand.

The US market is paying US$2.90 a pound for imported 95CL bull beef (NZ$8.95/kg cif) compared with US$2.66 this time last year.

The big difference in the comparison is the higher conversion value of the NZ dollar, currently US72c compared with 62c last June.

That impact alone is unfavourable by $300 a head, a Silver Fern Farms (SFF) spokesperson said. . . 

Intensive sheep and beef provides cash but wealth depends on capital gain – Keith Woodford:

Intensive sheep farms have been squeezed by dairy and are now drifting to beef with wool right out of the money

 This is the third article in a series investigating New Zealand’s pastoral sheep and beef farms. The first one was an overview of New Zealand’s 9200 commercial sheep and beef farms, and how the pastoral-farming area has declined over the last 30 years.  The second article focused on the North Island hill and hard-hill country, now comprising approximately 4000 of these 9200 commercial farms. On those hill farms, key issues are land-use competition between pastoralism and production forestry, combined with retirement of the tougher country for carbon farming.

This time my focus is on the 4400 intensive farms spanning both North and South Islands.They are classified by Beef+Lamb as Classes 5-8, with Class 5 being the in the North Island and Classes 6-8 being in the South Island. That leaves 200 high-country and 600 South Island hill-country farms that need their own analysis, but that will have to wait. . .

New Zealand has real opportunity to be a world leader in agritech:

TIN’s second annual Agritech Insights Report offers significant analysis of New Zealand’s Agricultural Technology export sector

Technology Investment Network (TIN) has released its second annual NZ Agritech Insights Report, providing compelling analysis of the size and scope of New Zealand’s leading agritech export companies, and the pipeline of promising Early Stage agritech companies.

Launched at Fieldays yesterday, the report provides a closer look into NZ’s agricultural technology sector based on data from TIN’s 2020 survey results, including size and significance, key export markets, investment challenges and opportunities, along with a comprehensive directory of over 110 early stage Agritech companies currently developing their own IP in New Zealand.

The Agritech Insights Report was first commissioned in 2020 to provide a baseline of data on New Zealand’s growing agritech export sector as the New Zealand Government launched its Agritech Industry Transformation Plan (ITP). . . 

Pet milk formula new gold rush? Announcing world’s most comprehensive  series of goat milk formula for cats and dogs :

In the early 2000s, demand for infant formula skyrocketed. New Zealand has enjoyed a new export revenue stream since. Peaked in 2013, export value was over $700m a year for New Zealand and over 200 brands were entered the market to compete for limited manufacturing capacity.

The playing field was late restricted largely to few big players, especially these with own factories, following policy changes in China. Despite of the restrictions, New Zealand still enjoys steady export revenue in infant formula today.

Could pet milk formula be the next gold mine for New Zealand? “Yes, it’s entirely possible. “, said James Gu, one of the founders of PetNZ Ltd and creators of the PetNZC brand. . .


Rural round-up

11/05/2021

Primary sector exports defy challenges – Sudesh Kissun:

Primary sector exporters, take a bow.

Despite major challenges, New Zealand primary sector exports are holding up well. And it’s not just dairy products leaving our ports in droves – beef, apples, kiwifruit, wine and sheepmeat are also being shipped out.

According to BNZ’s latest Rural Wrap, NZ primary sector exports have been impressively resilient to the massive global economic shock over the past 12 months.

BNZ senior economist Doug Steel points out that exporters have been facing considerable challenges – many of which are ongoing.

Critical worker shortage on dairy farmers will take a toll:

Federated Farmers is deeply disappointed the government’s exception announcement today shows it could not find a way to bring 500 desperately needed skilled dairy employees into the country.

Feds believes the pressure some farming families are now under, due to a severe lack of people to work on farms, is already taking a toll on stress levels, wellbeing and health.

“Farmers have been telling us for well over a year there is a real shortage of suitable dairy staff,” Federated Farmers employment and immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“I am getting daily calls about the labour situation and many farmers don’t know what to do for the coming season. . . 

New Zealand horticulture industry welcomes Government’s decision to bring in more workers from the Pacific:

The New Zealand horticulture industry has welcomed the Government’s latest move to increase the flow of workers from the Pacific, in support of the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme. 

‘Pacific workers are an integral part of the horticulture industry’s seasonal workforce, particularly for harvest and winter pruning.  They make up the shortfall in New Zealanders while at the same time, enabling the horticulture industry to grow and employ more New Zealanders in permanent positions,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘Indeed, over the past decade, the New Zealand horticulture industry has grown by 64% to $6.49 billion while in 2019, before Covid struck, more than $40 million was returned to Pacific economies through the RSE scheme.  . .

Silver Fern Farms creates opportunities for young people to succeed in the red meat industry :

Silver Fern Farms will launch their search for the future stars of the red meat industry in the coming weeks, with applications opening for the Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships and the Silver Fern Farms Graduate Career Programme.

Since 2017 Silver Fern Farms has invested $130,000 to further the careers of young people through Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships, and has also placed nine young people in roles around the business in the Graduate Career Programme.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says the Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships and the Graduate Career Programme reiterates the commitment Silver Fern Farms has to developing young people and their careers. . .

Alternative proteins industry has huge potential but lacks direction – report – Maja Burry:

New Zealand’s alternative proteins sector has huge potential, but is fragmented and lacks clear leadership, according to a new report.

The report was done by FoodHQ, a group which represents the country’s food innovation organisations, and was based on input from 185 people working in the broader sector. Products considered to be emerging proteins include plant-based foods and beverages, insect foods and lab-grown proteins.

FoodHQ chief executive Abby Thompson said while there was huge potential to meet global demand for emerging proteins, the industry faced significant challenges.

“New Zealand is currently missing a co-ordinated approach that is going to help drive some of addressing infrastructure gaps that is going to really help with the attraction and retention and development of talented scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs who can really drive some of this stuff.” . .

New technology brings vegetables centre stage:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is enabling New Zealand to tap into the growing market for plant-based products, where vegetables feature as a ‘centre of the plate’ item.

A diverse range of new processed vegetable products is now available on the market, thanks to $147,000 investment from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund – and more innovation is under way.

The two-year project led by Food Nation, which kicked off in mid-2019, aimed to develop a range of plant-based ‘meat alternative’ foods using mushroom seconds and an array of other more novel plants.

One year on, it has made some exciting progress. . . 


Rural round-up

06/05/2021

Rabbits: ‘It’s as bad as it’s ever been’ – Melanie Reid:

Rabbits are once again over-running parts of New Zealand. This week, in a series of short videos, Newsroom Investigates lays out the remarkable impacts in the south.

Farmers are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars every year on rabbit control, with some employing full time shooters. But what if you control the rabbits at your place, and next door they don’t?

For Phillip Bunn, a third generation farmer on 149 hectares of Central Otago family land, there are a lot of things that make farming in the Queenstown Wakatipu Basin tough.

But dealing with rabbits is by far the hardest part. . .

Truckers at risk crossing Mt Ruapehu bridge with ‘severe’ defects – Phil Pennington:

A century-old wooden bridge full of holes that carries masses of the country’s potatoes and carrots is jeopardising truckers’ safety and farmers’ livelihoods.

But government funding changes make it less certain the local council can get the bridge, on a back road on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu, replaced.

Between a 10th and one-fifth of the washed carrots and potatoes used in the North Island come across the one-lane timber Mangateitei rail overbridge near Ohakune.

There is no other public road out from the farms. . . 

Rein in rates and show some backbone over water rules, Feds urges ECan:

Federated Farmers is strongly urging Environment Canterbury to demonstrate financial discipline and stick with current water plans developed with the community, rather than cave in and start a $25 million exercise re-writing them.

Feds Mid-Canterbury President David Clark and fellow Ashburton farmer and national board member Chris Allen said the Federation’s Canterbury membership of around 3000 are outraged and hugely disappointed with the very large rates increases proposed.

Most farmers face bigger hikes than the overall average of 24.5% in the financial year starting July 1.

“No business has the luxury of unlimited income, especially farmers who as price takers cannot just increase their prices. ECan should be no different,” Clark told councillors at a hearing this morning. . . 

Log exports high prices create New Zealand trucking backlog – Maja Burry:

Strong export prices for logs are creating bottlenecks in the local supply chain, with forest owners reporting problems securing log truck drivers and in some cases, harvesting contractors.

Forest Owners Association’s president Phil Taylor said when log prices were high, smaller forest owners, including farmers, seized the opportunity to maximise returns.

“It’s a very good opportunity to realise their investments and for those farmers that have trees to provide them with a significant boost to their incomes.”

The shortage in log truck drivers was a developing concern and the association was keen to work with Te Uru Rākau New Zealand Forest Service to encourage more people into the industry, Taylor said. . .

Nadine Tunley is HortNZ’s new Chief Executive :

Nadine Tunley has been announced as Horticulture New Zealand’s new Chief Executive. 

‘We are very pleased to have been able to appoint a candidate of Nadine’s calibre, with her level of horticulture and wider food and fibre sector experience.  This was after an extensive recruitment process,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil. 

‘Nadine will lead HortNZ into new territory, as horticulture adapts to Covid and the operation of industry changes.  Over the next decade, climate adaption, freshwater quality improvements, and increased use of technology and automation will result in significant change to the way fruit and vegetables are grown in New Zealand. 

‘HortNZ’s role will be to help steer the industry through this change, advocating for growers to be given the time and support to adapt.  This is so our growers can remain viable during the transition, and do what they do best: feed New Zealand and the world healthy, good tasting and safe food. . . 

Rob Hewett appointed Silver Fern Farms co-op chair:

At the Co-operative’s Annual Meeting on 29 April, Richard Young announced that he was standing down as Co-operative Chair to facilitate transition to the next generation of Silver Fern Farms Co-operative leaders.

To bridge this transition period, the Co-operative Board has requested that Rob Hewett step back into the Co-operative Chair role that he relinquished two years ago, together with continuing in his role as Co-Chair of Silver Fern Farms Limited.

Mr Hewett said “Firstly I want to thank Richard for his significant contribution as Co-op Chair for the past two years. Over that time, he has led the development and establishment of a clear vision and purpose for the Co-operative, which ensures we continually work cohesively with our investment in Silver Fern Farms Limited, but also ensuring the voice of our farmer shareholders is heard. I also know he will continue to make a significant contribution for the balance of his current term. Over the next three years there will be significant managed transformation in our Board composition as several of our farmer elected directors come to the end of their maximum terms as allowed for in our Constitution – myself included. While the Constitution does allow for term extensions on a case by case basis for Directors who have reached their maximum term, it is the clear intention of the Co-operative board to manage succession proactively.” . . 


Rural round-up

01/05/2021

Canterbury irrigation scheme will hold farmers to account – Adam Burns:

Replacement consent for the Mayfield Hinds Valetta (MHV) irrigation scheme was granted after an independent commissioner released a decision last week.

The 10-year consent is subject to a series of conditions, including a 15 percent reduction in nitrogen losses by 2025 and 25 percent by 2030, auditing of farm environment plans, monitoring ground and surface water quality and remediation and response plans.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) can review the consent if improvements are unable to be achieved.

“This consent is granted on the basis that the significant adverse cumulative effects on the receiving environment will be reduced and there will be measurable environmental improvements within the consent term,” the hearing commissioner’s report states. . . 

Research into sheep farmers’ experiences – Annette Scott:

The call is out for New Zealand sheep farmers to help with a research project on the industry’s bioeconomic transition to sustainability.

Lincoln University Masters student Jemma Penelope is preparing to survey sheep farmers across all regions of NZ about their on-farm experiences and challenges as they strive for sustainability.

Penelope, currently undertaking her second Masters, is leading research projects that develop innovative solutions for the agri-food industry.

Having grown up and studied in Canterbury, Penelope then worked abroad in business management and conservation and environmental markets in several countries, including Australia, America and Canada, before realising a place for her back home. . . 

Sheep lead methane research – Richard Rennie:

A mob of low methane sheep are proving it is possible to produce less methane and grow a healthy, productive animal that farmers will want to put into their flock bloodlines in coming years.

For the past decade New Zealand scientists have largely flown below the radar with the work, but are enjoying world leading success in identifying high and low methane emitting sheep. 

The work means today researchers including AgResearch scientists, with the support of farmers through the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium  have two flocks of sheep, one high and one low methane emitting, and have established a genomic profile over three breeding generations. 

These provide sheep breeders with useful and accurate data on what their animal’s “methane value” is, relative to its breeding value. . . 

Directors returned to Silver Fern Farms co-operative board:

Rob Hewett, Co-Chair of Silver Fern Farms Limited has been re-elected to the Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Limited’s Board of Directors. Gabrielle Thompson, who was a Board Appointed Director, has also been elected to the Co-operative Board by farmer shareholders.

The Board was delighted with the calibre and number of candidates that put themselves for election. Those that were unsuccessful were William Oliver, Simon Davies, Rob Kempthorne and Charles Douglas-Clifford. We thank them for their ongoing commitment to Silver Fern Farms.

The total weighted vote represents 50.59% of total shares, compared to the 62.68% turnout in the previous election in February 2018. . . 

 

Lawson’s Dry Hills wins at the 2021 Cawthorn- Marlborough Environment Awards:

Lawson’s Dry Hills was awarded winner of the wine industry category at the 2021 Cawthron Marlborough Environment Awards, announced in Blenheim on Friday night.

In February, Lawson’s Dry Hills became a Toitu carbon zero certified organisation making the company the only New Zealand wine producer to be certified with both ISO14001 (Environmental Management) and ISO14064 (carbon zero).

The Awards judges praised Lawson’s Dry Hills for their commitment to reducing their environmental impact. Awards Coordinator and Judge, Bev Doole said, “These internationally recognised certifications reflect the culture at Lawson’s to improve and innovate across a wide range of areas, including recyclable and biodegradable packaging, generating solar power and storing water off the winery roof.” . . 

Central Otago’s oldest remaining stone packhouse on the market for sale:

The oldest standing stone packhouse in Central Otago, forming part of a sprawling lifestyle property, is on the market for sale.

Set in the heart of New Zealand’s original stone-fruit growing region, the 8.4-hectare property at 3196 Fruitlands-Roxburgh Road is offered for sale by Bayleys Cromwell for $1,560,000 plus GST (if any).

“The property, affectionately dubbed ‘Stonehouse Gardens’, offers a wonderful blend of home, income, lifestyle and priceless local history,” says Bayleys Cromwell salesperson Renee Anderson, who is marketing the property for sale with colleague Gary Kirk.

“Roxburgh and the Coal Creek area saw the start of stone-fruit cultivation during the 1860s gold rush, when the Tamblyn family first imported stone fruit trees from Australia,” Mr Kirk says. . . 

 


Rural round-up

27/04/2021

Farming director on SFF knew the time to go – Sally Rae:

When Fiona Hancox stood for the board of Silver Fern Farms, it was all about timing.

Six years later, the West Otago farmer’s decision to not seek re-election in this year’s farmer director elections for Silver Fern Farms Co-operative was also about timing.

While acknowledging it was sad to leave what was a “fantastic company and board” and also such an important part of her family’s own farming business — it was the right time, she said.

“I think I’ll be just be able to be pleased with what I’ve done,” she said. . .

Govt hasn’t got its ducks in a row on firearms licensing:

The Government’s focus on hitting legal firearms owners with more costs and regulations has meant those keen to participate in the Roar and duck shooting season may miss out.

Opening weekend of duck shooting season is just around the corner and the Roar is drawing to a close but many hunters are still waiting for their paperwork to be processed in order for them to hunt legally.

National’s Police spokesperson Simeon Brown says police have been unable to get on top of the situation.

“Police are telling people it’s taking four months for a license renewal and six months for a new license. But in reality, for some it’s taking much longer than that. . . 

Ag export sector backs scrapping UK Tariffs – Nigel Stirling:

New Zealand’s largest agricultural export industries have given conditional backing to calls for Britain to scrap tariffs on food imports.

Britain’s Trade Minister Liz Truss set up the Trade and Agriculture Commission last year, to plot a path forward for the country’s trading relationships with the rest of the world following its departure from the European Union’s customs union on January 1.

Former NZ trade minister Lockwood Smith, who joined the commission as an expert on international trade and helped write its final report published in February, has said its recommendation to Truss to open the border to food imports from countries with equivalent animal welfare and environmental standards as the UK is potentially a breakthrough moment for NZ dairy and beef exports shut out of the British market by high EU tariffs since the 1970s. . .

Using Mandarin to meat a need – Shawn McAvinue:

Southern students considering careers in the red meat processing and exporting sector were among the Meat Industry Association scholarship recipients for 2021. In a series, reporter Shawn McAvinue asks them about their study and plans.

A Nelson Mandela quote resonates with Meat Industry Association scholarship recipient Joelle Gatenby: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

Her dream was to use her agribusiness and Mandarin language skills to “bridge the friendship” between New Zealand and China and sell more red meat to the populous nation.

She learned to speak, read and write Mandarin at high school and represented Columba College at national Chinese speech and essay competitions. . . 

Defining year for winter grazing practices:

While the Government has delayed the implementation of winter grazing regulations by 12 months, it has made it clear it will be keeping a very close eye on wintering practices this year.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s North Island General Manager Corina Jordan says farmers should follow the good practice management advice developed by B+LNZ, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers and other industry partners and ensure they have a plan in place that identifies any winter grazing risks and outlines the strategies to mitigate them.

Based on recommendations from the farmer-led Southland Winter Grazing Advisory Group, B+LNZ is planning to hold Forage Cropping Workshops this winter, which are a component of the organisation’s recently released Farm Plan.     . .

* Big agriculture is best – Ted Nordhaus and Dan Blaustein-Rejto:

In some ways, it is not surprising that many of the best fed, most food-secure people in the history of the human species are convinced that the food system is broken. Most have never set foot on a farm or, at least, not on the sort of farm that provides the vast majority of food that people in wealthy nations like the United States consume.

In the popular bourgeois imagination, the idealized farm looks something like the ones that sell produce at local farmers markets. But while small farms like these account for close to half of all U.S. farms, they produce less than 10 percent of total output. The largest farms, by contrast, account for about 50 percent of output, relying on simplified production systems and economies of scale to feed a nation of 330 million people, vanishingly few of whom live anywhere near a farm or want to work in agriculture. It is this central role of large, corporate, and industrial-style farms that critics point to as evidence that the food system needs to be transformed.

But U.S. dependence on large farms is not a conspiracy by big corporations. Without question, the U.S. food system has many problems. But persistent misperceptions about it, most especially among affluent consumers, are a function of its spectacular success, not its failure. Any effort to address social and environmental problems associated with food production in the United States will need to first accommodate itself to the reality that, in a modern and affluent economy, the food system could not be anything other than large-scale, intensive, technological, and industrialized. . .

* Hat tip: Offsetting Behaviour


Rural round-up

06/04/2021

Mayor calls on government to give MIQ spots to RSE workers

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan is calling on the government to offer some of the available MIQ spaces to foreign workers.

MIQ authorities are urging people to return to New Zealand to snap up a sudden glut of vacancies for April. There have not been as many vacancies since October.

In an open letter to ministers, Cadogan said Central Otago’s horticulture industry was desperate for workers and bringing in foreigners under the seasonal employment scheme would bring huge relief.

“I am sure I do not need to draw your attention to the labour shortage we have in Central Otago in our horticultural industry and the desperate need for increased numbers of RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) scheme workers, but I do need to emphasise that things here are getting worse not better,” Cadogan’s letter said. . . 

Continued threat to NZ from severely impacted global supply chains:

  • As an open market economy, NZ is attractive to dumpers
  • Remedies available to local businesses and industries

Potatoes are not the only industry at risk from disrupted overseas businesses looking to dump cheap products in New Zealand, but the tools are there to ensure a level playing field for local businesses.

The longer the Covid-19 pandemic goes on across the world, the greater the risk to New Zealand markets from products imported and sold here at prices below the market price in their country of origin, according to a specialist advisor working with local interests on current anti-dumping cases.

Simon Crampton is assisting Potato New Zealand with its anti-dumping case and believes that other New Zealand industries and businesses are at risk of destabilisation from dumped products as the result of continuing turmoil in global supply chains, amongst other reasons. . . 

Fonterra to end coal use in factories by 2037 – Gerald Piddock:

Fonterra has backed the Climate Change Commission’s decarbonisation pathway to lower industrial emissions by pledging to replace its coal and natural gas to fuel its processing factories with wood biomass by 2037.

Its submission to the commission’s advice to the Government on how to achieve zero emissions by 2050 acknowledged the difficulties in meeting such a target, calling it “ambitious” and “challenging”.

It pointed out that the nature of New Zealand dairy farmers’ milk supply curve gave it an extremely narrow window in which it can undertake changes to its factories.

“Over a six to eight-week period, we go from collecting around four million litres of milk a day to around 82 million litres a day. All of our sites must be working close to full capacity to cope with this volume,” it said. . . 

Silver Fern Farms responds to dynamic global trading environment with strong performance:

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative has reported a net profit after tax of $32.4m for the 2020 financial year. Its investment, Silver Fern Farms Limited, reported a net profit after tax of $65.4m in the same period.

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Chairman Richard Young said the financial result achieved by the Co-operative and Silver Fern Farms Limited for the 2020 year is a strong result built off the skill and expertise of its people who navigated the company through a period of considerable uncertainty.

“The performance of the operating company in 2020 was truly commendable across a range of areas. Most important was how they put the health and welfare of their people first. In doing so they set a platform of trust and shared commitment from their staff to stand up as essential workers to service our regional communities, and to service our global consumers.” . . 

Awanui orchard offers step straight into market:

A large scale, well established avocado orchard in the Northland region offers the opportunity for an investor to enjoy immediate returns from the high value sector as demand continues to expand for the fruit.

Awanui orchard near Sweetwater represents 20 years of commitment from its original owner and founder, American-Kiwi Jerry Trussler.

Jerry’s far-sighted vision for the sector had him establish the 36-canopy hectare orchard at a time when the fledgling industry was distinguished by significantly smaller orchards. The entire land area comprises 79ha across an attractive, rolling block. . . .

California relocates mountain lions making a meal of endangered sheep :

Drastic steps taken to protect the Sierra Nevada’s 600 bighorn sheep after another charismatic species developed a taste for them

In order to save one endangered species, California scientists are having to relocate another iconic creature that is, regrettably, eating it.

The California department of fish and wildlife is in the process of moving mountain lions over 100 miles away from struggling populations of bighorn sheep, which are unique to the Sierra Nevada mountains. The herbivores were first listed as endangered in 1999, when their population was estimated at only 125 individuals, according to researchers.

“There’s no expectation that any of the lions we move are going to stay where we put it, regardless of age or sex,” acknowledged Danny Gammons, an environmental scientist for the sheep recovery program. “The goal is to get it away from bighorn sheep.” . . 


Rural round-up

10/03/2021

Ongoing disruptions hit processors – Neal Wallace:

Disrupted shipping schedules, labour shortages and dry conditions in parts of the country are starting to hamper meat processing capacity as the season reaches its peak.

The shortage of labour and a squeeze on cold storage space is limiting the ability of companies to work overtime and also forcing further reduced processing of cuts.

“We have adjusted our cut mix in some plants to speed up product flow, but conversely this means we lose the higher-value small cuts, which will ultimately be reflected in the pricing schedule,” Silver Fern Farms chief executive Simon Limmer told shareholders in a newsletter.

AgriHQ analyst Nicola Dennis says a shortage of skilled workers means processors have had to stop producing premium-earning boneless, tubed shoulders for Japan, instead selling bone-in shoulders to China at lower prices. . .

Dealing with disappointment – Nigel Beckford:

The cancellation of iconic events like Golden Shears and the Southland A&P Show due to Covid alert level changes highlights the need for rural communities to stick together and have a plan B.

The 61st Golden Shears, which were scheduled to be held in Masterton this week, have been cancelled for the first time in their history. A huge disappointment, not just for the 300 plus competitors, but also for the many rural families who look forward to the event each year.

“It was a huge thing,” says Mark Barrowcliffe, President of the NZ Shearing Contractors Association. He was a judge at last year’s competition and intended to compete at this one.

Our shearing community was only just getting used to being able to catch up again with each other after so many shearing sports events were cancelled last year. So it was a huge disappointment to have the goalposts pulled up again.” . .

Awareness about ovarian cancer is much needed:

A greater awareness of ovarian cancer amongst women and health professionals is much needed says Rural Women New Zealand.

“Ovarian cancer kills more women per year in New Zealand than the road toll, with one woman dying every 48 hours from it, and its not talked about, we need to change this,” says National President Gill Naylor.

“Women present to health services, on average, four or five times before diagnosis is made and 85% of those diagnosed, are diagnosed in the later stage of the disease when options for care are minimal and survival is unlikely – this is not good enough.

“Early detection is possible the signs and symptoms are known and can be as simple as a blood test and in our view, it is vital to build awareness of symptoms through education campaigns for both the general public and health professionals.

“A cervical smear does not detect ovarian cancer and there is a need for a screening programme, timely access to testing for women with symptoms, improved access to approved therapies and clinical trials, and dedicated funding for research. . . 

NZ grown grain project paying off – Annette Scott:

An industry drive to increase the use of New Zealand-grown grain is taking off.

In a project started in 2017, the arable industry has been working towards increasing the use of NZ-grown grain through heightening consumer and end-user awareness of the benefits in using locally grown grain.

Wheat is the specific target.

Wheat production has bumped up by 40,000 tonne over the past three harvests and with this season’s milling wheat harvest showing promising signs, the project is on track. . . 

Kiwifruit growers join foodbank drive :

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI), the industry body which advocates for 2,800 growers, is encouraging its members to pitch in and donate to the most vulnerable through The Foodbank Project.

The Foodbank Project is a joint partnership between Countdown, the Salvation Army, and Lucid.

The drive recognises that Covid-19 continues to have an economic impact upon New Zealand with many kiwis struggling financially. . .

First Step – Mike Bland:

Farm ownership has always been a goal for Jared Baines. Now he is on track to achieving that goal much sooner than expected.

Jared, 30, grew up on two King Country sheep and beef farms owned by his parents Chris and Lynda, but after finishing school he left home to work on other farms.

He says his parents, who own Waikaka Station near Matiere, had always encouraged their children to make their own way in the world. They instilled their offspring with a strong work ethic and taught them the importance of saving money.

Like his siblings, Jared reared calves on Waikaka and used the proceeds from this and other work to buy a rental property that could later be used as a deposit on a home or farm. . . 

Farmers to get paid for planting trees in new biodiversity pilot – Jamieson Murphy:

FARMERS in six regions across the nation will have the opportunity to get paid to plant mixed-species trees on their property, under a new government trial program.

Farmers can already participate in carbon markets under the Emissions Reduction Fund, but the new Carbon+Biodiversity pilot will try a new approach that will also see the government pay farmers for the biodiversity benefits they deliver.

Participates will get paid for the first three years of the trial and will earn carbon credits for at least 25 years, which they can sell to the government or to private buyers. . . 


Rural round-up

07/02/2021

Dismay at conversion to forestry – Sally Rae:

Among the steps the newly  formed Climate Change Commission laid out in its recently issued draft advice to hit ambitious greenhouse gas targets was more forestry. It recommended slashing livestock numbers by about 15% by 2030 and planting 380,000ha of new exotic forestry by 2035. In North Otago, the proposed conversion of a 2590ha sheep, beef and deer property to carbon forestry is creating waves as concerns are raised about environmental impacts and fears that forestry conversions are not subject to the same level of scrutiny as other land use changes.  Business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

“I just think it’s an absolute injustice, it’s a crime to have that land put into trees.”

North Otago farmer Murray Simpson has farmed Balmoral, near Tokarahi, for 45 years. The property neighbours Hazeldean, a 2590ha sheep, beef and deer farm in the headwaters of the Kakanui River catchment which appears destined to be planted out in pine trees.

The property is in the throes of being sold to New Zealand Carbon Farming — the largest provider of carbon credits in Australasia. Not mincing his words, Mr Simpson fears the development will be “an absolute shambles”. . . .

Exotic plantations to have a ‘crucial role’ :

The Forest Owners Association says the Climate Change Commission has endorsed the “crucial role” exotic forestry will carry out in meeting New Zealand’s net greenhouse gas emission targets in 2030 and 2050.

In a recent statement, president Phil Taylor said the 380,000ha of new exotic plantations the commission anticipates will need to be planted between now and 2035 will be the “support act” for the commission’s targets of massive reductions of the overall carbon dioxide emissions from industry and transport.

“This decarbonisation has to be the thrust of meeting New Zealand’s climate change mitigation obligations. Anything else is delaying solving the problem. Pines are great at buying time, but they don’t cut gross emissions themselves,” Mr Taylor said. . .

Kiwi research on infant milk powder colour goes global :

A Wintec science student Rehana Ponnal has had research published in the International Dairy Journal late last year, a big accomplishment for an undergraduate student.

Done while Rehana was on a work placement at Fonterra, the research tested the effectiveness of using a colorimeter to measure the colour of baby milk powder. Rehana worked on the research with a number of other scientists, and the journal entry, published in September last year, gives positive results of their findings.

As a result of the research, Fonterra is procuring a colorimeter to continue their testing.

“Colour is measured because it’s an important aspect of a product. It’s the first thing you perceive. If milk powder was brown for instance, you wouldn’t buy it,” she says. . . 

Red meat exports reached record highs in 2020 :

The New Zealand red meat sector exported $9.2 billion worth of products during 2020, an increase of 1% on the previous year, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Overall exports during the year reached historically high levels – and were 7% above 2018 exports ($8.6 billion) and 21% above 2017 ($7.6 billion).

“The results demonstrate that New Zealand’s red meat exports have remained stable despite the challenges of the global pandemic,” says MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva. “That is great news for the New Zealand economy and for farmers.

We have a diverse market portfolio and last year exported products to 111 countries around the world. . . 

Wairarapa peas harvested for first time in more than four years:

Wairarapa peas are being harvested for the first time in over four years.

ban was placed on growing peas in the region in 2016, after the discovery of pea weevil.

Production was allowed to resume last year after the Ministry for Primary Industries announced the insect pest had been successfully eradicated. . .

Silver Fern Farms pulling out of contract with Hawke’s Bay’s Graeme Lowe Tannery, union says – Thomas Airey:

The union for workers at Graeme Lowe Tannery says staff have been told a large contract with Silver Fern Farms will not be renewed.

The Hastings tannery is one of the biggest hide processing plants in the country and is owned by Lowe Corporation.

Lowe Corp has interests in other agri-business companies, property and farming around NZ.

The tannery’s exact number of employees is unknown but in 2020 Graeme Lowe Tannery Limited applied for 80 employees to be paid under the initial Covid-19 wage subsidy, then 90 employees in the wage subsidy extension. . . 


Rural round-up

19/01/2021

Why we can’t plant our way out of climate change – Marc Daalder:

As New Zealand gears up to fight climate change, experts warn that we need to actually reduce emissions, not just plant trees to offset our greenhouse gases, Marc Daalder reports

This year is shaping up to be a major one for climate policy. Between the Climate Change Commission releasing its recommendations around our Paris target and emissions budgets and a major climate summit in Glasgow in November, 2021 is the year the New Zealand Government will finally lay out in detail its plans to fight climate change.

Ahead of February 1, when the Commission will release drafts of its advice for consultation, experts warn that we shouldn’t be taken in by the allure of trees as a silver bullet. It’s true that major reforestation will be crucial to slowing global warming (and has added biodiversity benefits as well), because all plants sequester carbon breathed in from the atmosphere. . . 

Daigou disaster – Elbow Deep:

It is surprising how quickly a company’s fortunes can change; the A2 Milk Company (A2MC) played a dangerous high-stakes game, relying heavily on an informal network of Chinese students and personal shoppers to distribute much of its product into China. It’s a game that has cost other companies dearly in the past.

Daigou, buying on behalf, is a network of Chinese nationals living in or visiting Australia who buy local products and ship them back home to groups of friends, customers cultivated via the social media app WeChat. It is not uncommon for Chinese tour groups to visit stores like the Chemist Warehouse and buy products in bulk, much to the ire of locals.

Such is the demand from China for Australian packaged products that in 2019 a Sydney store owner was found to have stockpiled 4,000 1kg tins of baby formula ready for export. . . .

Concerns over shearer ‘bidding wars’ – Gerald Piddock:

Reports of unofficial bidding wars among Australian farmers to secure shearers has a New Zealand shearing boss worried it could lure Kiwi shearers across the Tasman to chase the money, leaving the industry short-staffed.

The shortage of shearers in Australia due to covid-19 restrictions meant some farmers were paying shearers 20-50% premiums per sheep above the usual rate, the ABC reported.

Shearing Contractors Association of Australia secretary Jason Letchford told ABC farmers were offering shearers A$4-$5/head to shear sheep. The minimum pay rate to shear a sheep in Australia is A$3.24.

Prior to the covid-19 border restrictions, these jobs would have been taken up by NZ shearers. . . 

Exchange rate a pain point for meat export – Neal Wallace:

A wildly fluctuating exchange rate is causing headaches for meat exporters. Silver Fern Farms (SFF) says between October and November the NZ-US exchange rate rose from $US0.65 to $US0.71, wiping $140 a head off beef and up to $11 off a lamb.

As of late this week the exchange rate was $US0.72.

In a Christmas update podcast, SFF’s supply chain manager Dan Boulton says in addition to exchange rate fluctuation, the other headwind facing exporters as they enter peak production, is the congested global supply chain.

This is causing issues with container availability, shipping schedules and port access. . . 

Tractor industry remains optimistic for 2021:

The tractor sales industry finished 2020 on a strong note with December sales up 18.4 % on 2019.

Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA) president Kyle Baxter says that while 2020 definitely posed challenges for the industry, the current mood of members is positive.

Overall tractor sales for 2020 were down 15.3% compared with 2019, with sales for the bigger machines (375+ HP) particularly affected with a drop of 25%. . . 

Dairy markets stable despite Covid challenges – Carlene Dowie:

Global dairy markets appear to be weathering the COVID-19 storm with prices stable despite pandemic-induced changes in demand in key markets.

The Australian Milk Value Portal’s latest Global Dairy Update says resilience in demand for dairy products is underpinning the market.

International analysts are also pointing to stability – with ANZ in New Zealand last week lifting its forecast farmgate price there by 7.5 per cent while the Food and Agricultural Organisation’s dairy price index jumped for the seventh month in a row in December.

The Milk Value Portal’s Nanna Moller said the market outlook was mostly bullish, despite differences in global markets, with slowing growth in milk supply in Europe and Oceania and sustained demand for consumer staples. . . 


Rural round-up

09/12/2020

Natural fibres could be a game changer – Annette Scott:

The launch of a new natural fibre company is set to re-emerge wool and hemp to the forefront of a global sea-change in consumer preference.

In a move to innovate for a greener tomorrow, NZ Yarn, a subsidiary of Carrfields Primary Wool (CP Wool), and hemp processing company Hemp NZ have joined forces to create New Zealand D a natural fibres and materials business with global ambitions.

NZNF chair Craig Carr says the new company is aiming to be a pioneer in the global natural fibres revolution.

Products will be made from renewable NZ-grown hemp and wool, as well as blends of the two fibres using proprietary technology to prototype, produce and market a wide range of consumer and industrial options. . . 

How do we brand differently? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The marketers are telling us that they have no choice – but to pursue it.

Big names like Danone, Cargill and Walmart are all trying to show they are being environmentally responsible by sourcing regenerative agriculture (RA) products. Danone is planting trees to offset activities. Cargill is encouraging farmers to move from permanent cropping monocultures in areas bigger than most New Zealand farms to no-till rotations. Walmart is aiming for ‘beyond sustainability’ across its supply chain – including agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

To support the move, environmental auditors are growing in number. . . 

Getting off the land and into the waves – Rebecca Ryan:

North Otago and South Canterbury farmers are being encouraged to get off their farms and into the waves this summer.

Surfing for Farmers, a mental health initiative which helps farmers manage stress by teaching them to surf, started in Gisborne in 2018. It has since spread to 15 other locations across the country, and will launch in Kakanui at Campbells Bay on December 9.

Surfing for Farmers founder Stephen Thomson got the idea from the Netflix documentary Resurface, about US soldiers with PTSD using surfing to help their rehabilitation.

He secured some sponsorship from local businesses, found a surfing instructor and put the word out to local farmers. . . 

Proposal to bring bubbles of 300 RSE workers to Hastings for managed isolation – Marty Sharpe:

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins is considering a proposal to turn a former Hastings motel into a Managed Isolation and Quarantine facility specifically for 300-strong bubbles of returning fruit pickers from the Pacific Islands.

The proposal was included in a plan submitted by Hawke’s Bay councils and local horticultural and viticultural industries to the government last month.

The industry and councils are concerned about the huge shortage of workers and the “significant social and economic impact for New Zealand and the Hawke’s Bay region”.

The RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) scheme usually brings in 14,000 workers. The government has agreed to allow 2000 workers in under strict conditions. These would add to the 5000 still in the country, meaning there would be roughly half the usual number of RSE workers for the upcoming picking season. . . 

‘Meat the Need’ way for farmers to help most vulnerable – Sally Rae:

Farmers feed people.

That, as West Coast dairy farmer Siobhan O’Malley succinctly puts it, is their job. And, in the case of “Meat the Need”, the charity she co-founded, farmers are helping feed those particularly in need.

Last month, Mrs O’Malley and Golden Bay dairy farmer Wayne Langford received the industry champion award at the Primary Industries New Zealand Awards for Meat the Need, which kicked off during the first week of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Originally focused on supplying meat to City Missions and foodbanks, Meat the Need receives meat given by farmers, which is then processed and packed by Silver Fern Farms and delivered. . . 

 

What if the United States stopped eating meat? – Frank Mitloehner:

If Americans’ gave up meat and other animal products, would that solve our climate crisis? Research says no. In fact, it continues to demonstrate giving up meat would be a woefully inadequate solution to the problem of global warming and distracts us from more impactful mitigation opportunities.

But that’s not what certain people, companies, and news outlets would have you believe. Businesses invested in plant-based alternatives and lab-grown meat continue to exaggerate the impact of animal agriculture in efforts to convert meat-eaters to their products, mostly in the name of environmental health. But if Americans choose to forgo meat, it would have a minimal and short-term impact on the climate.

In 2017, Professors Mary Beth Hall and Robin White published an article regarding the nutritional and greenhouse gas impacts of removing animals from U.S. agriculture. Imagining for a moment that Americans have eliminated all animal protein from their diets, they concluded such a scenario would lead to a reduction of a mere 2.6 percent in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions throughout the United States. Subscribing to Meatless Monday only would bring about a 0.3 percent decrease in GHG emissions, again in the U.S. A measurable difference to be sure, but far from a major one.

As an aside, the solely plant-based agriculture hypothesized by Professors Hall and White would result in various negative results, economic and nutritional among them. For example, we would be able to produce 23 percent more food by volume, but the plant-based food would fall short of delivering essential nutrients to the U.S. population, they concluded. . . 

 


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