Rural round-up

August 10, 2020

No long term business without animal welfare: farmers – Bonnie Flaws:

Farm or Harm: In this series we look at the rules, expectations and attitudes guiding the New Zealand primary sector’s treatment of animals.

Animal welfare should be the priority if farmers want to build a successful business, say a leading dairy farming couple.

A number of cases of mistreatment of animals have put the spotlight of some farmers and industry practices.

But for award-winning Taranaki sharemilkers Simon and Natasha Wilkes animal welfare simply makes good business sense. . . 

From pasture to pastoral care – Mary-Jo Tohill:

If you’d asked South Otago pastor Alex McLaughlin back in his Canterbury farming days if he was interested in becoming a minister, he’d have said, “Never, it’s just not me.”

The religious conviction was always there; he started running Sunday school at the age of 17 but never envisaged it becoming a fulltime role. Yet, now 62, here he is.

“Being a pastor in a rural community requires being able to roll with whatever comes your way and there is no real way to prepare for the wide variety of tasks that are expected of you.”

He is also pastor at Silver Fern Farms’ Finegand plant and the Southern Institute of Technology’s Telford campus near Balclutha.  . . 

No working dogs but lots of kiwi on Okaihau dairy farm – Kate Guthrie:

Jane and Roger Hutchings haven’t had a dog on Lodore Farm, their 450-hectare Northland property, in over 20 years – but they do have a lot of North Island brown kiwi.

“We estimate we have at least 50 pairs of North Island Brown kiwi,” Jane says. “We do the kiwi call census every year in two different areas of the farm. I’ve sat in the same spot for the last 8 years and Roger has another area he has counted in the last few years.”

This gives the Hutchings an idea of how many birds they have in certain areas. Calls identify male or female birds, a compass bearing and distance apart. The good news is counts are going up meaning young birds are surviving.

Jane’s call-count spot is a mixture of pasture and regenerating bush while Roger counts kiwi calls from an area of mature bush. . . 

Southland cleared of M.bovis cattle disease – Louisa Steyl:

It was considered the origin of New Zealand’s Mycoplasma bovis outbreak in 2017, but today, Southland is infection free.

Ministry of Primary Industries regional recovery manager Richard McPhail praised the farming community for their co-operation as he shared the news on Friday that there are no longer any active properties, or properties under a Notice of Direction, in Southland.

“There’s been a lot of heavy lifting done to get to this point,” he said.

But there was still work to be done, McPhail said. “There’s an expectation that more infection will be found, [albeit] not necessarily in our area.” . .

Arable farmers pleased with 2020 harvest yields:

Final harvest data for wheat, barley and oats (milling/malting and feed) in 2020 show yields were up 17% overall across the six crops.

The July AIMI (Arable Industry Marketing Initiative) Survey report shows these results were from a reduced number of hectares planted (down 6%), with the net result being a 10% increase in total tonnage compared to last season.

“For context, keep in mind when making the comparison that 2019’s results were below average,” Federated Farmers Vice-Chairperson Grains, Brian Leadley, said.

“Nevertheless, we have those reported strong yields and even a new world record.  While the 17.398 tonnes/hectare of Kerrin wheat harvested on Eric Watson’s Ashburton farm is testament to great management, it’s also a reflection of a pretty good growing season.” . . 

Spat hatchery business in the wings for eastern Bay of Plenty:

Te Whānau-ā-Apanui and Aotearoa Mussel Limited have joined forces to build a land-based mussel spat hatchery in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, to enhance New Zealand’s growing aquaculture industry.

Te Whānau-ā-Apanui will invest $1.2million in a research and development programme with support from Callaghan Innovation. The programme is scheduled to commence in early September 2020.

Rikirangi Gage, CEO of Te Rūnanga o Te Whānau has assumed a sponsorship role in the project. He said that “the hatchery concept is a perfect fit with a burgeoning mussel industry in New Zealand, particularly within the Eastern Bay of Plenty”. . . 


Rural round-up

July 30, 2020

Fonterra wins right to refuse suppliers – Esther Taunton:

A long-awaited law change means Fonterra could refuse to accept milk from controversial dairy conversions like the Simons Pass development in the Mackenzie Basin.

Changes to the 20-year-old Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (Dira) passed unanimously through Parliament on Friday.

The new rules allow Fonterra to reject milk from new dairy farm conversions and extend its rights to refuse milk from farmers who don’t meet its standards.

The amendments also remove the requirement for the co-op to supply milk to competitors to help them get established and allow it to refuse re-entry to farmers who have switched processors. . . 

Recruitment campaign won’t turn ‘flight attendants into dairy workers’ – Brent Melville:

Pivoting unemployed New Zealanders into the agriculture and primary sector won’t turn former Air New Zealand flight attendants into dairy workers or remove the need for specialist skills across the processing sector, according to a change consultant.

The comments come as the Ministry for Primary Industries rolls out a $4.5 million recruitment campaign aiming to fill a 10,000-job hole across the agricultural and primary sectors left by New Zealand’s extended border closures through the Covid-19 pandemic.

The website and marketing campaign, ‘opportunity grows here’, was developed by ad agency Clemenger BBDO and the four-year project is being funded through a $19.3m allocation under this year’s budget. . . 

Future of New Zealand’s farming should be female – Nicky Hyslop:

 At first glance, farming might appear to be a way of life that is as old as the hills. But when you look closer, it is clear that farming is a modern profession – and one that is certainly not stuck in the mud.

Modern farming practices are increasingly challenging any parochial view that some Kiwis have about the industry.

Gone are the days of simply mucking in and hoping for the best. Farming today involves new technologies and harnessing big data to drive decision-making. And coupling these innovations with an increased emphasis on animal welfare, soil nutrition and environmental stewardship.

Farming has always been competitive. Understanding crop rotation, grazing, nutrient profiles of soil and transport logistics are just some of the factors that farmers have to get right in order to be successful. . . 

Alliance to spend $3.2m on upgrade :

Alliance Group is to spend $3.2million on a further upgrade at its Lorneville plant, near Invercargill, to help improve operational efficiency.

The plant’s engine room two, which provides key refrigeration for four cold stores, some blast freezers and several product chillers will receive upgraded safety features, equipment and building structure.

The programme would improve the company’s ability to control the refrigeration system remotely and provide a platform for further investment, Alliance said in a statement. . . 

$7.9m for SFF dividend, patronage :

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative has declared a dividend and patronage reward for shareholders totalling $7.9 million.

The decision followed receipt of a cash dividend of $12.4 million to the co-operative from Silver Fern Farms Ltd, which is jointly owned by Silver Fern Farms Co-operative and China’s Shanghai Maling.

That dividend was generated from Silver Fern Farms Ltd’s 2019 financial year for which it reported a net profit after tax of $70.7 million in April this year.

At the time, the dividend was deferred at the request of Silver Fern Farms Co-operative and Shanghai Maling until the outlook for the global trading environment became clearer. .  .

 

Five farmers revitalise soil health while remaining profitable:

Scottish farmers are getting their heads together on one of the most fundamental concerns – how to revitalise soil health to achieve more sustainable farming and profit.

The Soil Regenerative Group has been created to explore which techniques, treatments, crops and rotations best establish resilient soils and how to integrate these into profits.

From growing linseed to broadcasting seed on the day of harvest, grazing sheep on oilseed rape to direct drilling, each farmer is experimenting differently and is at varied stages of adopting “regenerative”, or conservation, farming. . . 


Rural round-up

June 19, 2020

Rural communities under threat from carbon off-setting farmers say – Bonnie Flaws:

Rural communities are being hollowed out as carbon investors buy up farm land at prices well over those farmers might pay, Pahiatua sheep and beef farmer Lincoln Grant says.

School closures were just one symptom of the trend towards increased pine plantations on former sheep and beef farms, he said. Tiraumea school, north of Masterton, is one school that closed its doors two years ago after changing land use led to dropping role numbers.

As farming families sold up and moved away, jobs went with them. . .

The challenge of meeting environmental rules – Peter Burke:

Complying with new and stricter environmental requirements is for farmers a major challenge worldwide.

When Rural News reporter Peter Burke was in Ireland last year, he met up with Professor Tommy Boland of University College Dublin (UCD) who, like colleagues in NZ, is looking to find practical solutions that farmers can use to reduce their environmental footprint and somehow meet the new standards of policy makers and politicians.

Tommy Boland has been to New Zealand several times and understands the situation in this country.

He says both countries are recognised for their efforts and achievements in environmental pasture-based meat, milk and fibre production, while leading the way in developing new approaches to ensuring future sustainability. . .   

Study beefs up meat’s importance:

New research highlights value of New Zealand’s red meat sector as the industry launches its general election manifesto. 

The red meat sector’s contributes $12 billion in income to the economy and employs almost 5% of the full-time workforce.

The study commissioned by the Meat Industry Association and Beef + Lamb shows the meat processing and exporting sector is also responsible for $4.6b in household income and represents a fifth of New Zealand’s productive sector. 

The release of the research by S G Heilbron Economic and Policy Consulting coincides with B+LNZ and the MIA launching a joint manifesto ahead of the election.  . . 

Terrible news: the avocado crime gangs are about to strike again – Hayden Donnell:

For four years running, at the exact same time of year, New Zealand has been savaged by gangs of avocado thieves. Hayden Donnell sounds the alarm about the country’s most predictable crisis.

They come every year like clockwork. As winter starts to bite, and our summer produce hits its peak price point, the thieves rouse themselves and head out to pillage. They always have the same target. They usually have the same MO. In the dead of night, they steal our avocados.

This year, their timing couldn’t be worse. Most New Zealanders are still reeling from the Covid-19 lockdown. We’re slowly readjusting to normal life: blinking like stunned owls at the white lights of the newly reopened retail stores. Struggling to remember the way to our offices. The last thing we need is another crisis. . .

Silver Fern Farms no available direct to customers with Gourmet Direct partnership:

Silver Fern Farms’ full retail range of natural, grass-fed, premium red meat products are now available to be ordered online and delivered direct to consumers across New Zealand thanks to a new partnership with Gourmet Direct, a nationwide e-commerce business specialising in premium New Zealand meat products.

Silver Fern Farms’ Group Marketing Manager, Nicola Johnston says the partnership with Gourmet Direct was a natural fit, with online shopping becoming more popular than ever following the Covid-19 lockdown.

“At Silver Fern Farms we are thrilled to partner with Gourmet Direct, who have developed a loyal customer base which values their selection of premium meats, product quality and superior customer service. . . 

Rail supporting Hawke’s Bay drought relief:

KiwiRail is helping the drought relief effort by shifting stock feed for free from the South Island to parched farms in Hawke’s Bay.

“On top of the Covid-19 crisis, the prolonged drought in parts of the North Island has put some farmers and stock under great stress,” KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller says.

“We move dairy products, beef, lamb, horticulture and viticulture for the rural sector so it is one of our most important customers, and we’re pleased to support it now at this time of need. . . 

 


Rural round-up

June 15, 2020

South Island winter tomato growers hit by carbon charges – Tracy Neal:

Parts of New Zealand might soon struggle to find tomatoes in winter.

Much of the South Island’s supply is grown in glasshouses heated by coal-fired burners, while gas-fired burners, diesel units or geothermal power is used mainly by North Island growers.

Some South Island growers said they faced oblivion through record high carbon charges – the government’s main tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions . .

Fonterra to pay some vendors within 10 working days to help with Covid-19 recovery – Stephanie Ockhuysen:

Fonterra is going to start paying the invoices for 3000 small and medium-sized vendors faster to help with their Covid-19 recovery.

From July 1, 2020, Fonterra will aim to ensure businesses are paid within 10 working days from the receipt of invoice.

Currently, the dairy giant’s payment terms for SMEs is the 20th of the month following the invoice date.

In the past, Fonterra has caused controversy around its payment terms, which once saw it wait up to 90 days to pay invoices from its thousands of trade suppliers. But in August 2018 it changed to the 20th of the month policy. . .

Catch crops after winter forage grazing a win-win for farmers, environment:

Hardy catch crops such as oats are showing major promise for mopping up excess nitrogen after winter grazing and could create a win-win for farmers in terms of their environmental footprint and profitability.

Dr Peter Carey, a Lincoln Agritech Field Researcher, is leading a three-year Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) research programme, in conjunction with Plant and Food Research, to apply the use of catch crops more widely in winter forage rotations.

Dr Carey, who completed a PhD at Lincoln University on the use of catch crops, found that they can reduce nitrate leaching by as much as 40%. This study looks to extend his research and apply it directly to commercial farms in Canterbury and Southland. The project aims to adapt their use to the different soils and climatic conditions of each region. . . 

Use wood to achieve zero carbon construction:

As the spotlight falls on Forestry, as one of New Zealand’s biggest industries to help revive the economy post lockdown, the New Zealand Forest Sector Forum is asking the question – why isn’t NZ using more locally-sourced wood, and getting behind its zero-carbon construction properties?

We’ve got to use more wood in NZ, reversing the reliance on concrete and steel in our construction. Only by doing this will we mitigate the effects of climate change, increase the use of a naturally renewable resource and strengthen regional economies.

Not only is wood locally produced, supporting approximately 30,000 jobs, but wood is the best choice for the environment. For every tonne of wood material used in construction, it is estimated that 5.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide are saved from release into the atmosphere, and wood requires less energy to produce than any other building material. Basically, trees eat carbon out of the atmosphere and lock it up in wood. The more wood you use, the more carbon is removed from the atmosphere. . . 

Silver Fern Farms searches for food heroes as Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships 2020 launch:

Silver Fern Farms welcomes applications for the Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships for 2020.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says the scholarship programme reiterates the commitment Silver Fern Farms has to developing young people and their careers.

“During this time of disruption, we have seen that our industry needs food heroes to ensure the continued success of the red meat industry. The Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarship programme gives us the chance to hear directly from the creative young people who want to make a contribution to sustainable food production.” . . 

Organic Products Bill must settle on a definition of organics:

New Zealand’s longest-running association devoted to organics is calling on the government to amend it’s landmark Organic Products Bill to include a definition of organics.

Speaking to the Primary Production Select Committee today, Soil & Health Association Deputy Chair Jenny Lux said the lack of a definition risked undermining the whole enterprise.

“Organic production isn’t currently defined in the Bill despite there being a clear international definition that our trading partners know and will understand. . . 


Rural round-up

June 8, 2020

Deer industry wary on reforms :

The deer industry remains cautious of the Government’s latest freshwater policy decisions given there is little expertise outside of the deer industry about to how minimise the impacts of deer on the environment.

While the revised regulations give deer farmers more certainty about farm compliance there are still several impractical implications for deer farmers, Deer Industry New Zealand chairman Ian Walker said.

“As an industry we have supported the need for farm environment plans so making them mandatory should not be a burden as long as the proposed farm plans address actual environmental risks and auditing reflects deer farming knowledge and understanding of deer behaviours,” Walker said. . .

Giving hill country farmers a voice – David Hill:

Growing up in Rangiora, Teagan Graham never imagined what experiences lay ahead in the sheep and beef sector.

The University of Otago student gained a Silver Fern Farms scholarship last year and then landed a summer internship with Beef + Lamb New Zealand, assisting on a project studying the future of hill-country farming.

Ms Graham is in the final year of a degree in environmental management and ecology, but little did she know when attending Rangiora High School that she could make a career in agriculture, as she was not from a farm.

‘‘You definitely can have a career in agriculture. I one-hundred percent believe it now,’’ she said. . .

Technology collars ewe super mums – Richard Rennie:

A mother’s love might be unconditional but new collar technology for sheep proves love can be determined by an algorithm, helping New Zealand sheep become more productive in the process. Richard Renniespoke to Smart Shepherd director Mike Tate about his company’s cutting-edge tracking device.

Thirty years ago when scanning technology was developed for commercial use in sheep pregnancy detection it was deservedly hailed as a leap forward in helping better measure ewe productivity.

But former AgResearch developer Dr Mike Tate said despite having scanning data sheep farmers have always faced a gap in understanding why scanning percentages are not usually matched by weaned lamb percentages. 

The Smart Shepherd technology will provide the data to fill that gap.  .  .

Horticulture student’s drive to push New Zealand’s high quality produce around the globe is rewarded:

The journey of New Zealand’s high quality nutritious food from farmer to fork is what drives Agcarm’s horticultural scholarship winner, Alexandra Tomkins in her goal to be a leader in food production.

The Massey University student is in her third year of a Bachelor of AgriCommerce degree and will put her winnings towards her student loan, which she says is “fairly daunting”.

Growing up in New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand before finishing her school studies in New Zealand, Tomkins says that, as New Zealanders, we don’t realise how good our produce is – that high quality is the norm.  She intends to share New Zealand’s story and encourage the food industry to be more consumer-centric and sustainable. . .

Big winners featured on small screen:

For the first time ever, the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will be screened on national television on Saturday 4th July at 7:30pm.

The Awards will be televised on Country TV’s Sky Channel 81 which will be accessible to all viewers without subscription. It will also be available online for those who do not have Sky.

“We’re excited about airing our National awards on Country TV and the additional recognition our finalists, partners and national sponsors will receive,” says NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon. . .

The global forest industry this quarter:

Global Timber Markets

    • There were relatively few price changes for sawlogs throughout the world in the 1Q/20 despite interruptions in trade and uncertainty in short-term lumber demand in many of the key markets.
    • The Global Sawlog Price Index (GSPI) remained practically unchanged from the 4Q/19 to the 1Q/20. This followed a period of two years when the Index was in constant decline.
    • Over the past two decades, sawlog prices in Eastern Europe have gone up the most on the continent, albeit from low levels, while prices in Central Europe have declined substantially, particularly in 2019. . .

Rural round-up

May 2, 2020

Ongoing drought is bleeding us dry – Rhea Dasent:

We are living through exceptional times, and the drought of 2020 is one of the exceptions – and not in a good way.

Businesses affected by the coronavirus lockdown understand how farmers feel about the drought.

Being unable to trade due to external influences puts you not just on the back foot, but several feet behind, for the rest of the year or even longer.

Tourism businesses rely on a good summer with lots of customers in order to have the income to get through the low winter season. Farmers have good and bad seasons too, and hope that it all evens out.

But the lockdown and this drought have taken the usual seasonal ups and downs to a whole new level. . . 

Overseas markets holding up – Allan Barber:

In a recent conversation, Alliance CEO David Surveyor described world red meat markets by comparing them to traffic lights. Contrary to the evidence earlier in the year, when buyers stopped buying because of Chinese New Year closely followed by the Covid-19 shutdown, China has emerged as the brightest light with the traffic lights firmly set on green. The composition of Chinese orders has changed since the virus outbreak with retail and online sales growing considerably, while there are signs of hot pot outlets starting to reopen.

Silver Fern Farms’ Simon Limmer agrees with this assessment, although he cautions against assuming there won’t be a risk of a market reversal at some point. For the time being China is a saviour, in spite of meat exporters’ wish not to put too many eggs in the same basket. This is not a time to pick and choose though. The rest of Asia is also quite strong with demand for grass fed beef holding up well in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and South East Asia. . .

Changing patterns in food supply must be addressed – Anna Campbell:

I have been reading and listening to reports and podcasts on the impact of Covid-19 on food supply and buying patterns.

It is interesting to note that most of these trends were identified as trends before Covid-19, but the pandemic has massively shifted the dial in terms of the pace of change. We are likely to see many of these shifts sustained in the Covid-19 recovery and beyond.

1. In the United States, Covid-19 has increased the dominance of the large food players such as Walmart and Amazon (which owns Whole Foods). Small grocery chains and independents, before Covid-19, made up 40% of the grocery sector — this is rapidly shrinking. Workers within the large chains are negotiating higher pay and, in general, profit margins on grocery products are decreasing. This will make it harder for small players to compete, especially without the benefits of robotics and artificial intelligence systems. . . 

Four Dairy Women’s Network Regional Leader finalists:

Grassroots dairy farming leadership efforts from throughout New Zealand are represented by the four finalists in the Dairy Women’s Network new DWN Regional Leader of the Year award.

The finalists are spread from the north of the North Island where Sue Skelton is farming south west of Whangarei near Waiotira to Jessica Goodwright who is sharemilking in Drummond in Central Southland.

Mid-Canterbury farmer and personal development coach Tania Burrows and North Canterbury contract milker Rebecca Green are the other two finalists that represent over 70 volunteer Dairy Women’s Network Regional Leaders spread throughout the country. . .

High yields in difficult season a credit to NZ’s arable farmers:

Yields for the 2020 harvest are up 16 percent across the board when compared to 2019, the latest Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI) survey shows.

Particularly encouraging was the fact fewer hectares were planted in total this season compared to last (98,090 ha vs 104,000) yet tonnes harvested were substantially up (873,080 vs 796,700), Federated Farmers Vice-Chairperson Grains, Brian Leadley, said.

“This is in despite of a severe early season hailstorm, flooding in some regions and some pretty variable weather.  It just highlights that our arable farmers are world class,” Brian said. . .

Muttonbird hunters expect prices to go up as season cut short by lockdown – Te Aniwa Hurihanganui:

Eager muttonbird hunters are hoping to get a flight out to the Tītī / Muttonbird Islands as soon possible, with alert level 3 now opening a small window of opportunity to gather the delicious tītī before the season is over.

Muttonbirds are in hot demand every year, but with alert level 4 putting the season on hold, hunters now have just two weeks before the birds leave the island in early May.

Tony McColgan from Invercargill usually collects up to 2000 birds a year; he thought the season was over when the lockdown began. . . 

Investing in cows grows wealth in dairy – Samantha Townsend:

It might have taken the Nicholsons 30 years to put their name on the mortgage but it was an investment well worth the wait for the next generation.

Megan and Geoff Nicholson started their dairy journey as lease farmers in 1989 having moved back to her home town of Taree from the United Kingdom where they met.

Geoff was from a beef, sheep and cropping farm but neither of us had particular dairy experience but we decided to give it go and loved it ,” Mrs Nicholson said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

April 17, 2020

Pig-headed butcher ruling causing issues – Nigel Malthus:

The country’s pork producers say relaxation of the COVID-19 lockdown rules might still not be enough to prevent an animal welfare crisis on the country’s pig farms.

They say pig farming is geared almost entirely to domestic consumption, depends on weekly throughput with no spare capacity, and unlike red meat has no established export market to take up the slack.

With the forced closure of restaurants and independent butchers, they are hurting, says NZ Pork chief executive David Baines. . .

Coronavirus: Lingering drought prompts more calls to rural helpline during Covid-19 – Lawrence Gullery:

Tight feed supplies and the ongoing drought has pushed up calls to the Rural Support Trust’s national helpline as more farmers seek help.

The trust’s national chairperson, Neil Bateup, said there had been a 40 per cent increase in calls since the dry weather started to grip the country in February.

He said traditionally the trust records around 35 calls at this time of the year but it was now up to 50.

“Difficulties around the drought, particularly low feed supply, would be the main reasons for the increase but we’ve got all of the other issues around financial planning, wellness, unemployment, relationships that are still coming in too.” . .

Coronavirus: tulip bulb export still a grey area – Rachael Kelly:

Tulip exporter Rudi Verplancke says it was a relief to watch a truck leave his plant in Southland with the hope to fulfil export orders.

The bulb growers have had 150 million bulbs sitting in storage, collectively worth $32 million, that are destined for lucrative northern hemisphere markets.

Triflor operations manager Rudi Verplancke said it was “a very big relief” to see an order leave the company’s plant near Edendale on Thursday morning but it was still a grey area regarding final permission to export. . .

Essential food teams need more staff:

Keeping food on the table is trickier under COVID-19 physical distancing conditions, but Hawke’s Bay’s food producers are focused on the task.

Hastings’ primary industry starred in national media this week, with a call for more workers. The need to keep everyone safe through physical distancing, from pickers in the field to the staff in pack houses and processing factories, means more people are needed across a whole range of steps in the food production process.

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst is focused on ensuring people who may have lost their normal employment because of the virus are aware of other opportunities available.

“Our economy is our fertile land and what we harvest from it. To keep our economy moving, we must support our primary producers and keep our people in jobs.” . . .

Positive 2019 result gives certainty in disrupted global environment:

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative has reported a net profit after tax of $34.9m for the 2019 financial year. Its investment, Silver Fern Farms Limited, reported a net profit after tax of $70.7m for the 2019 financial year.

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Chairman Richard Young said the financial result achieved by the Co-operative and Silver Fern Farms Limited for the 2019 year provides stability for both the Co-operative and the operating company.

“The Co-operative is in a strong position with no debt. Whilst this was achieved last year, we now have a strong platform to weather a period where our country and the world is in a period of considerable economic uncertainty.” . .

Avoparty with avocados:

NZ Avocado have teamed up with dinner party pop-up professionals, Kitchen Takeover, to unite separated friends and family around virtual dining tables during lockdown.

NZ Avocado and Kitchen Takeover want to help Kiwis connect with each other through food whilst they are apart, by providing the tools needed to host a virtual dinner parties at home.

#Avopartyanyway is a virtual dinner experience designed to be as heart-warming and fun as before lockdown began. Participants invite their friends, set up a video call, and get inspired by easy to follow, fun and healthy recipes. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 15, 2020

New research indicates NZ’s sheep and beef greenhouse gas emissions have been overstated:

AgResearch has developed a more accurate calculation of the nitrous oxide emissions from sheep, beef and dairy production, which shows that nitrous oxide emissions are two thirds and one third respectively lower than previously thought.

The new nitrous oxide measurement will reduce each sector’s total greenhouse gas emission by the following:

    • Total sheep emissions (including methane and nitrous oxide emissions) will be around 10.6 percent lower than previously reported. 
    • Total beef cattle emissions (including methane and nitrous oxide emissions) will be 5.0 percent lower than previously reported. . . 

Workers give up Eater break to clear logjam at meat plants – Eric Frykberg:

Staff at 12 meat plants run by Silver Fern Farms worked on Good Friday and Easter Monday to try to catch up with a serious backlog of animals needing to be processed.

The company won’t give any numbers because of commercial confidentiality but says a dent was made in the logjam of stock at hardpressed processing plants.

The problem arose even before the Covid-19 crisis, when drought killed off grass growth on many New Zealand paddocks, leaving little feed available for livestock.

To solve this problem, farmers sent their stock to the works early, creating a backlog of stock in waiting yards. . . 

Shearing not cut out – Pam Tipa:

Shearing has been deemed an essential service, but people must come first, says Mike Barrowcliffe, NZ Shearing Contractors Association president.

“The last thing an 80-year-old farmer wants is a whole lot of young people who haven’t been self-isolating turning up to his place to shear his sheep,” he says.

Everyone should put safety first throughout the whole supply chain – from the farmers themselves to contractor employees, Barrowcliffe told Rural News.

“They need to ask the questions, is it essential and can it wait?” he says. . . 

Vet firm uneasy over what services to offer – Sally Rae:

It’s not business as usual for vets — despite what the public’s perception might be, Oamaru vet Simon Laming says.

Mr Laming, of Veterinary Centre Ltd, which has clinics throughout the region, expressed concerns about the services the business should continue to offer, and the public perception of continuing to operate as an essential service.

A visit from police recently followed a complaint from a member of the public who had seen two people in one of the Veterinary Centre’s trucks.

What had been difficult to establish was exactly what services should be offered as guidelines were not very specific, Mr Laming said. . . 

Meat Industry Association calls for fair treatment in renewable energy targets:

New Zealand’s meat processing sector will need more time if it is to meet proposed targets for renewable energy, says the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Sirma Karapeeva, Chief Executive of the MIA, said the vast cost of converting coal-fired boilers to alternative heating by the proposed deadline of 2030 would place huge pressure on an industry that is already facing significant headwinds.

If the proposals go ahead in their current form, the sector would not be able to absorb the estimated $80 million capital cost of converting to direct electric, heat pump or biomass options in such a short time frame. . . 

Wattie’s is setting production records to help supermarkets meet consumer demand:

Teams of employees in Wattie’s factories in Hawke’s Bay, Christchurch and Auckland have been working as never before to help keep supermarkets stocked in their efforts to satisfy consumer demand in these unprecedent times of the Covid-19 crisis.

The range of products include Wattie’s tomato sauce, Wattie’s baked beans & spaghetti, soups and canned and frozen meals, frozen peas and mixed vegetables, and dips. On top of these are the seasonal products like peaches, pears and beetroot.

All this while, the country’s largest tomato harvesting and processing season is underway in Hawke’s Bay. Harvesting started on February 21 and is scheduled to continue until April 22. With social distancing requirements extending to the fields, the job of harvest operators can become very lonely with 12-hour shifts. . . 


Rural round-up

April 7, 2020

Queues for meat plant space grow :

Meat companies Silver Fern Farms and Alliance report a dramatic lift in livestock numbers waiting to be processed as their plants are down to half capacity under covid-19 rules.

In a note to its suppliers Silver Fern Farms said queue times at its 14 plants have extended exponentially as suppliers book early to avoid congestion and because of colder weather and diminished feed.

Suppliers might be waiting three to six weeks for space, depending on stock class and region. 

An Alliance update to its co-operative members estimates several weeks’ backlog, with processing down to about 30% for beef. . . 

Famously scenic Arcadia Station sold

A Queenstown farmer has bought a scenic rural property near Glenorchy, famous as a setting for TV commercials and films like The Lord of the Rings, for an undisclosed price.

The 257ha Arcadia Station, bordered by Diamond Lake, Mount Aspiring National Park and Dart River and the Paradise property, has been farmed for 60 years by Jim Veint (83), who in turn bought it off his father, Lloyd.

Mr Veint will continue assisting with the farming operation and help recruit and train a new farm manager. . . 

Beware of false prophets – The Veteran:

There have been calls for ‘value added’ to be the driver for our export industry as long as I can remember.    Much of that directed at the timber industry.   All well in theory.   Reality trumps (bad word) theory most times.

So let’s look at timber.   Some would argue the export of raw timber (logs) should be discouraged/banned in favor of the processed product.   That this would lead to an increased number of jobs in the industry particularly now with the economy predicted to contract. . . 

Support set up for farmers facing feed shortages :

Farming groups have set up advice and support for farmers facing shortages of stock feed as they head into winter.

The Ministry for Primary Industries worked with the groups on the initiative which includes a feed budgeting service and farm systems advice.

Federated Farmers said drought, the cancellation of traditional stock sale forums and reduced processing capacity at meat works meant many farmers were carrying more stock than they anticipated going into winter.

This was putting a huge strain on already stretched feed resources and farmer morale. . . 

No spilt milk during lockdown – Molly Houseman:

Last Friday looked “bleak” for Holy Cow.

The family dairy farm in Reynoldstown, near Port Chalmers in Dunedin, lost about 70% of its customers as restaurants and cafes closed for the Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown, and no longer needed their usual milk orders.

Owner Merrall MacNeille was left wondering: “What am I going to do with all this milk?”

However, business quickly took an unexpected turn. . . 

Rural Ambassador program brought a storm of opportunities – James Cleaver:

Is there anything better than hearing rain on the roof?

Or the smell that rolls in 10 minutes before a thunderstorm?

We all love rain for obvious reasons and let’s hope this small break gets bigger in the next few months.

Rain equals opportunity and options. It’s the tangent to allow things to grow to their full potential. . . 

 


Rural round-up

April 1, 2020

Hope from the high country – Philip Todhunter:

Covid-19? It’s like opening your front door and finding two metres of snow on the ground just after you’d put all your new fencing in.

The fences have been wrecked. You look at the damage, you shake your head, and then you get on with managing your way through it.

In the back of your mind, you know that spring will come, the tonnes of snow will melt, and the grass will grow again.

Farmers are an optimistic bunch. We’re used to things going in cycles: weather patterns, commodity prices, market demand … but we also know that sometimes the wheel doesn’t turn the whole way round, sometimes the change is permanent. . . 

Coronavirus: can the economy recover – Andrea Vance and Iain McGregor:

The economic ride down is likely to be sharp and steep. But when consumers eventually emerge from lockdown, what will the recovery look like? Andrea Vance and Iain McGregor investigate.

Weighing sheep in a yard in the brown foothills of North Canterbury’s Hundalee Hills, Ben Ensor is an unlikely soldier on the frontline of New Zealand’s economic recovery.

As the country prepared to shut down, to stop the spread of coronavirus, the sheep and beef farmer was separating merino stock under the shadow of rustic woolshed. Hooves beat up clouds of dust, as his farm dog herded them into a race.

With 6000 sheep, and around 500 cattle, Ensor can’t close down. Like nurses, doctors, pharmacists and supermarket staff, farming and cropping have been deemed “essential“. . .

Kiwifruit taste test goes south :

Kiwifruit growers will not be paid for their fruit’s taste profile this season after the country’s only testing facility dropped the test.

Eurofins Bay of Plenty is the country’s only testing facility for the drymatter component of kiwifruit, which gives growers and Zespri a direct indication of the fruit’s taste profile.  

The lab now tests only for residues in fruit, leaving post-harvest processors grappling with how to evaluate fruit quality. . .

Keep calm, carry on – Colin Williscroft:

The Government is well aware of farming’s importance and is doing everything it can to ensure the primary sector continues to operate as close to normal as possible, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says.

“Farming has been the backbone of New Zealand and that will that continue long into the future,” O’Connor says.

Cabinet understands the role farming plays in the economy, along with the need to maintain farming systems subject to seasonal and biological cycles, including the lifecycle of animals and grass growth, restrictions other businesses around the country are not subject to. . .

Meat industry in better shape today to cope with downturn – Allan Barber:

When I started to trawl through possible topics to write about this week, I had the bright idea it might be worth asking meat processors what contingency plans they have in place in case an employee, more particularly one on the processing floor, tests positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus. So far my research suggests it’s not yet an issue that has received a great deal of consideration by many companies, although it’s certainly on their radar.

In an update to farmers, Silver Fern Farms states its position as “The reality is that an outbreak, or the understandable precautionary response of our people, is likely to see an impact on our processing capacity in coming weeks. It is realistic to expect that with a workforce of 7000 we will at least have precautionary isolation within our workforce. We have processes in place to ensure that, should this occur, it can be managed. We are working on the various contingent options and will keep you updated should there be any disruption to processing.” . . 

Coronavirus: George Eustice applauds farmers as ‘hidden heroes’ :

Defra Secretary George Eustice has labelled farmers ‘hidden heroes’ for keeping food on the nation’s plates during the Covid-19 crisis.

In an open letter to the food and farming industry, Mr Eustice paid tribute to ‘all those who are working around the clock to keep the nation fed.’

The statement described farmers’ response so far as ‘extraordinary’ and thanked those involved in food production on behalf of the country.

“In the face of what is perhaps the greatest health challenge this country has faced in our lifetime, I want to pay tribute to all those who are working around the clock to keep the nation fed,” he said. . .  

 


Rural round-up

September 10, 2019

2050 deadline to improve freshwater in New Zealand – Rachael Kelly and Gerard Hutching:

A lobby group says some Southland farmers may abandon their land because of new water rules but the agriculture ministers says it’s a ridiculous statement to make.

Agriculture minister Damien O’Connor and Environment Minister David Parker released a draft National Policy Statement and National Environment Standards: Freshwater, on Thursday.

They propose changes to farming practices and new rules for councils, aiming to stop the degradation of waterways and clean up rivers and lakes within a generation.

Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young says some of the rules nitrogen may be able to be met but the numbers around freshwater may just be a step too far and there is going to be a significant financial cost. . . 

Water policy is doomed to fail – Aan Emmerson:

I can’t see anyone in the provincial sector being remotely surprised at the draconian nature of Environment Minister David Parker’s policy announcement on water quality.

For a start, Parker told us in June there would be tighter regulation of the agricultural sector.

He also made the earth-shattering statement he would regulate what, in his view, were some of the riskier farming practices.

Last Thursday’s statement came in three parts, a diagram, a bland summary then the actual document, all 105 pages of it.

Climate change Bill concerns for SFF – Brent Melville:

Silver Fern Farms, the nation’s largest procurer and exporter of red meat, has tabled “significant concerns” related to the economic impacts of the Government’s proposed climate change response Bill.

In its submission to the environment select committee this morning, the company said while it supported the Bill’s ultimate temperature increase goals, it had concerns specific to methane reduction targets, the inability of farmers to offset the warming effects of biogenic methane and processor obligations for farm emissions.

Silver Fern Farms head of communications and sustainability Justin Courtney said the submission had largely been informed by discussion with more than 750 of the company’s 15,500 farmer suppliers across New Zealand. The zero carbon proposals as tabled were “top of the list of farmers’ concerns”, he said. . . 

The unpopular tree sucking carbon from our air – Eloise Gibson:

Pinus Radiata grows like a weed, which is why it’s so fast at sequestering carbon. But since many people prefer native trees, forestry scientists are proposing an unconventional solution to get the best of both worlds.

To measure how much carbon is in a tree, you first have to kill it.

You slice up the trunk, branches, twigs, leaves and roots and dry the dismembered tree parts in an oven. Then you weigh them.

“It takes a long time,” says Euan Mason, a professor at the University of Canterbury’s School of Forestry. “I did some in 2012 with two students, and in six weeks I think we did 25 trees.” . . 

New campaign promotes wool’s benefits – Brent Melville:

Recent experiments in Japan measured the efficiencies of using wool carpet versus a synthetic option in two identical houses.

The wool option resulted in electricity savings of between 8% to 13%, with additional savings of up to 12% for cooling under the same conditions.

It is one of the fast facts contained in an informative and highly stylised campaign, designed to educate international frontline carpet and other retailers on the benefits of strong wool.

The “back to basics” approach is the brain child of wool sales and marketing company Wools of New Zealand (WNZ), in the belief that frontline retailers are neglecting the natural benefits of the fibre in the rush to sell synthetic product.

The heart of the programme is a 12-part “wool benefits” marketing campaign, which the company says has resonated strongly with local and international customers alike. . . 

NSA celebrates ban on false advertising about wool:

The National Sheep Association (NSA) is pleased to see the response by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) banning some misleading advertising from PETA propagating the lie that wool is cruelly obtained from sheep.

NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker comments: ‘NSA is pleased to hear this decision by ASA that exposes PETA’s advertising for what it is, grossly inaccurate jargon which is misleading the public as well as damaging farmers reputations and livelihoods. The simple undeniable fact is that removing wool from sheep is necessary for their health and welfare. It does not harm them, and it does not exploit them. Wool is a by-product of their existence.”

Following reports of cruelty during shearing last year (2018), NSA joined with several other industry bodies to create a clear set of guidelines for farmers and shearing contractors to follow to ensure they shear to the highest standard possible. . . 


Rural round-up

May 13, 2019

Tip Top to join Froneri global family:

New Zealand’s iconic ice cream company has a new owner, after global ice cream company Froneri today purchased Tip Top from Fonterra for $380 million.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell confirmed the sale, saying it was a bittersweet moment for Fonterra.

“Since we took ownership of Tip Top in 2001, a lot of work has gone into ensuring it remained New Zealand’s leading ice cream company. Over that time, we’ve had strong support from New Zealanders, and I want to recognise and thank them for that.

“Tip Top has always listened to consumers and cared about their changing tastes, as well as their long-time favourites. An average of 340 serves of Tip Top are enjoyed every minute of every day. . . 

Froneri unlocks NZ & Pacific with acquisition of Tip Top:

Froneri has today agreed to acquire the iconic New Zealand ice cream business Tip Top from global dairy co-operative Fonterra with completion expected by the end of the month.

Commenting on the deal, Froneri CEO Ibrahim Najafi explains: “We have always admired Tip Top, which is an iconic brand in New Zealand with a long proud history and we are looking forward to welcoming the team into Froneri. Our vision is to build the world’s best ice cream company; an important part of our strategy is to develop local market successes and roll them out across our other markets.” . . 

RWNZ: communities, opportunities, support – Sally Rae:

“We’re not just tea and scones.”

But as Rural Women New Zealand national president Fiona Gower points out, the social support aspect of the organisation remains as important today as it did when it was established nearly a century ago.

Ms Gower, who was in Oamaru last week for a RWNZ regional conference, wears many hats.

As well as her RWNZ position, she is also chairwoman of the New Zealand Landcare Trust, a qualified lifeguard and instructor, a Scout leader and a mother. . . 

The evolution of lamb:

New Zealand lamb has come a very long way since the first shipment of frozen lamb left Port Chalmers bound for the UK in 1882.  After a 98-day voyage it arrived in London on May 24th (aka #NationalLambDay) and New Zealand lamb’s export market was successfully established. 

I was curious to know how lamb has evolved in New Zealand’s foodservice industry over the years and spoke to Beef + Lamb New Zealand Platinum Ambassador Chef, Michael Coughlin.  Michael has been serving New Zealand lamb in restaurants for more than thirty years and in his current role as chef advisor for Provenance Lamb, he is now at the forefront of the gate to plate story which today’s chefs and their customers are eager to hear.

When Michael started his cooking career, he said the only Spring Lamb that was available to chefs was frozen, pre-cut export grade lamb destined for the European Market.  It was mainly racks from the middle of the saddle which were not Frenched or whole legs.  This meant that chefs needed to sharpen up their butchery skills or have a good relationship with their local butcher to trim down the cuts for their menus.  Slow cuts such as lamb shanks and lamb necks were still seen as dog tucker and it was all about the French Rack or traditional roast on restaurant menus.  Some years later the likes of Gourmet Direct started up which gave chefs more of a variety with vacuum packed individual cuts.  This opened up creativity for chefs and by the early-eighties the Lamb Cuisine Awards were introduced by Beef + Lamb New Zealand to entice and reward chefs for having creative lamb dishes on their menu. . . 

From Aussie jackeroo to Dunedin consultant – Sally Rae:

Sam Harburg may have grown up in the city but his affinity for agriculture developed at a young age.

Mr Harburg recently joined agribusiness consulting company AbacusBio as a consultant, moving from Australia to Dunedin with his wife Liz and their two young children.

Brought up in Brisbane in a non-farming family, he spent his school holidays on the farms of family friends.

As far back as he could remember, he was going to study agriculture at university but, at that stage, he never realised the scope that existed within the sector for careers, he said. . . 

We must become the world’s deli – Annette Scott:

Ashburton farmer Gabrielle Thompson has become the first appointed farmer director of Silver Fern Farms in a move designed to ensure succession and development of skills around the board table. She talked to Annette Scott.

When Gabrielle Thompson was approached to put her name in the hat for the Silver Fern Farms board she saw a chance to be involved in governance of a company that is a big part of her farm business.

A sheep an arable farmer, Thompson farms in partnership with her husband Peter and his brother Chris on 530 hectares at Dorie near Ashburton.

The trio finish up to 14,000 store lambs a year and for three generations the family has been a loyal SFF supplier. . . 

Third time lucky for dairy award winners

Colin and Isabella Beazley from Northland have been named share farmers of the year at the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards dinner in Wellington.

They are a smart, humble and practical couple who are doing very well at dairy farming on a challenging property in Northland.

Canterbury’s Matt Redmond was named dairy manager of the year and Nicola Blowey, also from Canterbury, is the dairy trainee of the year. 

They shared prizes worth more than $210,000. . . 


Rural round-up

May 4, 2019

The prospects for post-Brexit trade with New Zealand – Mike Petersen:

In spite of the uncertainty in the UK with regard to Brexit, the key message from New Zealand is that we will continue to be a constructive and valuable partner for the UK on agriculture and trade issues after Brexit.

Of course, our relationship is not without its challenges, but we are like minded on so many levels. The issues facing farmers the world over are largely the same, and I firmly believe there are compelling reasons for the UK and New Zealand to work together to tackle agricultural trade issues after Brexit.

New Zealand agricultural trade profile

New Zealand is a dynamic, outward looking economy with a highly diversified export market profile. This market diversification can only succeed with improved market access. While governments negotiate to open up and maintain market access in the WTO and through trade agreements, industry itself plays a critical role in identifying and utilising these market access opportunities and navigating constantly changing international commercial challenges and trends. . . 

Mum, teacher, farmer, winner – Annette Scott:

Taranaki dairy farmer Trish Rankin was a self-acclaimed townie having never been on a farm until her husband decided to go dairy farming. Now the passionate environmentalist has been crowned Dairy Woman of the Year. She talked to Annette Scott.

Dairy farmer, passionate environmentalist and part-time teacher Trish Rankin has taken out the prestigious Dairy Woman of the Year 2019 title.

The Taranaki mum headed off the field of four finalists at the Dairy Woman’s Network conference in Christchurch last week.

Rankin balances full-time farming with her husband Glen and their four boys with teaching part time at Opunake Primary School. . . 

Huge pond enhances efficiency – Toni Williams:

Barrhill Chertsey Irrigation’s (BCI) new multi-million dollar water storage facility was made on time and within budget. It will give BCI members access to water at peak times. Reporter Toni Williams found out about BCI and the Akarana Storage Pond construction.

Akarana Pond gets its name from the farm site where it sits, on Barkers Road near Methven.

The pond was designed by NZ company Damwatch Engineering, and built by Canterbury based contractors, Rooney Earthmoving Limited.

Carrfields Irrigation, Electraserve and Rubicon Water Management were also involved. . .

Duck hunters’ delight: is this the world’s best mai-mai?:

A group of duck hunters from Gore have built a mai-mai that is giving “pride of the south” a whole new meaning.

From the outside the hut is inconspicuous, with long grass growing over the roof, but inside it has all the comforts of home.

It’s equipped with a six-burner stove, a bar laden with Speights, two fridges, couches and four beds. The fully functional bathroom even has a hand dryer.

But the most luxurious features must be the Sky TV and a closed-circuit video feed of the pond outside constantly displayed on another screen. . .

Opportunities Party identifies safe and valuable use of genetic technology:

The Forest Owners Association and Federated Farmers congratulate the Opportunities Party for its balanced and sensible gene editing policy, which recognises the significant economic and environmental benefits gene editing technology can provide.

The presidents of the respective organisations, Peter Weir and Katie Milne, say the time for an informed public debate is well overdue as genetic technologies have changed dramatically in recent years and their safety and value has been proven oversees. . . 

Summer Cervena 2019 campaign launched in Europe:

Alliance Group, Duncan NZ and Silver Fern Farms are working together with Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) in the third year of Passion 2 Profit (P2P) Primary Growth Partnership activity raising awareness for Cervena for Northern European summer menus.

This year’s Summer Cervena campaign, running from late-March through to August, has a primary focus on foodservice. The venison exporters are building on the previous activity and now working together with their respective importers/distributors in Benelux and German markets to lift sales to chefs and foodies in the region.

The predominantly foodservice campaign is seeking to attract the attention of high-end and more casual-upmarket establishments, in particular, says DINZ venison marketing manager Nick Taylor. . .

7 mistakes rural marketing managers make and how to fix it – St John Craner:

Over the years I’ve worked with some great rural marketing managers and I’ve also met some poor ones. It’s the same for most of us, a mix of good and bad. So what distinguishes the best rural marketing managers from the worst? The worst commit the crimes below. However they can improve their careers and remuneration prospects if they follow the recommendations below.

Do you want to be a more effective and valuable rural marketing manager who craves more reward and recognition for what you do?

Do you want to secure that raise and promotion this year? Yes? . . 


Rural round-up

May 3, 2019

In defence of the cooperative model – Andrea Fox:

Nearly two decades on from its creation, Fonterra is still handling about 80 per cent of all New Zealand raw milk. But is it time, as some critics say, to chop up this $20 billion beast and create a separate discretionary investment vehicle to chase the money needed to hit the high value, high earning branded consumer product markets? In the second part of her series, Andrea Fox runs the ruler over the cooperative model.

Fonterra’s architects got a lot of backs up when they side-stepped the Commerce Commission, claiming their plan for a super-cooperative to take on the world was beyond the competition watchdog’s scope.

Instead they went directly to the Beehive. The result was the DIRA, the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001. It birthed a cooperative dairy industry mega-merger, deregulated dairy exporting and encouraged new manufacturing and export competition, while setting some onerous rules to rein in Fonterra’s market dominance at home. . . 

Opening the farm gate on Opening Weekend:

Federated Farmers reminds duck hunters heading out on Saturday for the season opening that access to farms is a privilege.

The ‘Opening Day’ of the duck-shooting season is a big deal in rural New Zealand, with 40,000 annual participants across the country. Hunters will pay their money to Fish and Game for a duck shooting licence but access is usually reliant on the goodwill of local farmers. Many hunters find themselves beside a wetland built and maintained on private farmland. Many of these arrangements are several generations old, established on a handshake.

“Farmers and visiting hunters alike look forward to the opening weekend of the duck-shooting season,’’ says Federated Farmers Environment spokesperson Chris Allen. . . 

Continuity assured as ‘fresh hands’ take over – Sally Rae:

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative’s new chairman, Richard Young, describes his tenure on the board as ”one hell of a ride”.

Incumbent chairman Rob Hewett announced he was stepping down from the role at the co-operative’s annual meeting in Dunedin yesterday.

However, Mr Hewett will remain on the co-operative’s board and continue as co-chairman of Silver Fern Farms Ltd, which is jointly owned by Silver Fern Farms Co-operative and Shanghai Maling.

It was part of a succession programme and while he would still be ”here for a while”, it was time for ”fresh hands”, Mr Hewett said. . .

Belief company ‘can do better’ – Sally Rae:

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Simon Limmer is confident of an improved financial performance in 2019.

Before Silver Fern Farms Co-operative’s annual meeting in Dunedin yesterday, Mr Limmer reflected on the 2018 financial year.

Silver Fern Farms Ltd is jointly owned by Silver Fern Farms Co-operative and Shanghai Maling. . . 

Scholarship winner passionate about precision agriculture:

Ravensdown are excited to announce this year’s recipient of the Hugh Williams Memorial Scholarship, Tom Wilson.

The Hugh Williams Memorial Scholarship was founded to commemorate the late Hugh Williams, a Ravensdown Director from 1987 to 2000. The scholarship provides $5,000 per year for the duration of a student’s agricultural or horticultural studies at Lincoln, Waikato or Massey University.

Currently in his third year at Massey University, Tom is studying his Bachelor of Agricultural Science. He is actively involved in the agricultural sector and presented his research on the feasibility of an updated Spreadmark test at the annual Fertiliser and Lime Research Centre conference in 2019. . . 

Real world ranch restorationMike Callicrate:

In late March, a fascinating group of forward-thinkers, innovators and change-makers converged at Callicrate Cattle Company for a ten-day intensive regenerative farm planning and design workshop led by Darren Doherty, a world recognized consultant and facilitator.

Owner Mike Callicrate met Doherty a few years ago on a business trip to Australia and immediately began a long-term collaboration with the native Australian, who is considered a leader worldwide at shifting farms and ranches from the current “extractive industrial model of production” to sounder approaches based on regenerating and rebuilding soils, landscapes, ecosystems and rural communities.

“I wanted to put together a systematic plan going forward that accomplishes our goals rather than just talking about it and never doing it,” Mike explained. “It’s a complex undertaking. It’s hard rebuilding a broken food system. It’s hard for a ranch even to stay in business without fair markets or a democratic food infrastructure that serves everyone equally.” . . 


Rural round-up

April 2, 2019

ClearTech an effluent game-changer – Alan Williams:

Ravensdown says its new ClearTech dairy effluent treatment system will allow two-thirds of the water used to wash farm milking yards each day to be recycled.

It removes up to 99% of E coli and phosphorus from the raw effluent water and cuts nitrogen concentration by about 70%.

ClearTech’s promise, based on Lincoln University dairy farm results, convinced the judges at the South Island Agricultural Field Days to make Ravensdown the Agri Innovation Award winner.

“It’s a privilege for us to achieve this and the culmination of our partnership with Lincoln,” Ravensdown’s ClearTech product manager Carl Ahlfeld said.  . . 

Value of apparel wool surges – Sally Rae:

A new era of profitability is being heralded for mid-micron wool growers.

Despite mid-micron wool being labelled in the McKinsey report of 2000 as having a bleak future, the outlook is looking bright.

New Smartwool contracts have just been released at prices that had not been achieved before, the New Zealand Merino Company said.

South Otago farmer Stephen Jack, who has developed a dual-purpose sheep, described it as “exciting times” in the sheep industry. . . 

Distillery dreams see daylight – Sally Rae:

Young Wade Watson might not know it yet but he is going to have a heck of a 21st birthday party.

The nearly two-month-old infant already has an oak barrel of whisky bearing his name, maturing nicely at Lammermoor Distillery in the Paerau Valley.

The distillery has been established by Wade’s grandparents, John and Susie Elliot, who farm the 5200ha Lammermoor Station. . . 

Definition of lamb now officially changed in export legislation – Kristen Frost:

Australia’s new definition of lamb is on track to take effect from July 1 this year with legislative changes this week registered by the Australian Government.

The move means Australian farmers will be able to sell more lamb with the definition matching our competitors in export legislation.

The new definition is ‘young sheep under 12 months of age or which do not have any permanent incisor teeth in wear’. . . 

Silver Fern Farms cites tough sheep market in profit slide – Gavan Evans:

 (BusinessDesk) – Silver Fern Farms says poor trading in its sheep meat business contributed to a 62 percent decline in full-year profit.

Sales in 2018 rose 9 percent to $2.4 billion but net profit fell to $5.8 million from $15.4 million in the 2017 calendar year. The year-earlier figure was reduced by $10.2 million of one-off costs, mostly related to the closure of the firm’s Fairton processing plant near Ashburton.

While the Dunedin-based company had achieved a “back-to-back profit”, chief executive Simon Limmer stated said the level of profitability was not good enough. . . 

Coastal livestock farm with private airstrip up for sale :

The biggest farm within the Gisborne/Wairoa/Northern Hawkes Bay region to come on the market in the past five years is up for sale.

Tunanui Station at Opoutama sitting on the Mahia Peninsula – which separates Poverty Bay in the north from Hawke’s Bay to the south – is a 2,058-hectare property which comes complete with its own private airstrip. . . .


Rural round-up

February 8, 2019

Nelson fire: Water shortage, dry conditions worry farmers

Rural groups are rallying help for farmers, livestock and pets affected by the Nelson fires.

Federated Farmers of New Zealand provincial support person Jan Gillanders said big farms and lots of smaller lifestyle blocks had been affected.

“Farms are not just business units, families live on them,” she said.

“To see everything get ruined and damaged … sometimes you can’t get to your stock, the distress the farmers experience – over wondering where their stock are and what’s happening to the stock – is enormous.” . . 

Drones proving a muster time-saver – Alexia Johnston:

Dogs and their masters are going to new heights in their bid to be the best in the field.

The Lowburn Collie Club added a drone component to its recent dog trials, testing the skills of the musterer while using the airborne device, now commonly used in the high country.

Musterer Tony Buchanan was among those who attended the event, complete with a ute full of loyal dogs and a Phantom 4 Pro.

He said the device had come in handy over the past two years while mustering sheep and cattle.

”But, you still can’t do it without your dogs,” he said. . . 

Nitrogen to be focus at hub field day – Ken Muir:

Nitrogen (N) will be high on the agenda at the Southern Dairy Hub’s field day on February 20.

Hub business manager Guy Michaels said scientists will present a progress report on N leaching loss from the 2018 winter period, as well looking at feed quality with particular emphasis on N, including from the crop in winter 2018.

Other topics will include blood urea N results from winter feeding trial, soil mineral N results and crop N applications and a look at the autumn and winter plan, and how winter grazing would be implemented on farm, taking into account environmental considerations.

‘‘It’s good to be able to present some information and data from our farming systems, but we are still in the early stages of our research,’’ Mr Michaels said. ‘‘Farmers are impatient for results, which is a good thing, but it does put pressure on us.’’ . . 

More money needed for rural connectivity:

The announcement this week of more funding for rural connectivity is positive but it is just a drop in the required connectivity bucket, says Federated Farmers.

The Government’s pledge of an additional $21million towards the creation of “regional digital hubs” in rural areas is good to see, says Feds Telecommunications spokesperson Andrew Hoggard.

“But the investment really just highlights to us that rural business and communities deserve as much chance as their urban counterparts to flourish.” 

The regional digital hubs are a good idea, but the focus must remain on getting better connectivity to where people live and work, Andrew says. . . 

New Zealand apple and pear industry targets biosecurity:

New Zealand’s world leading apple and pear industry has gained a significant funding boost to help prepare and manage biosecurity threats, through the Government’s MPI Sustainable Farming Fund.

New Zealand Apples & Pears biosecurity manager Nicola Robertson said the $420,000 grant, announced this week, would make a huge difference for protecting the industry’s future.

“We are living with the risk of biosecurity threats every day, that could have devastating impacts for growers and across New Zealand. . . 

Watch the BOP’s best young fruit growers in action:

Eight of the Bay of Plenty’s best growers will showcase their horticultural expertise at the Te Puke A&P Show this weekend for 2019’s first Young Fruit Grower competition.

This year’s eight entrants for the Bay of Plenty are: . . 

Nominations open for Silver Fern Farms board directors:

Nominations are now open for one farmer-elected Board position on the Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Board.

Director Tony O’Boyle retires by rotation at the Company’s 2018 Annual Meeting.

Tony O’Boyle has advised he will seek re-election.

Nominations close on Monday 4 March 2019 at 12 noon. . . 

Neighbours rally around hospitalised WA farmer to harvest his crop for free – Ellie Honeybone:

Peter Carey is brought to tears when he recounts the generosity of his rural neighbours.

While the 70-year-old was being flown to hospital in a Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) plane, his friends were working together to ensure the harvest would still go ahead on his farm.

More than 20 locals put aside their own harvest plans to make sure Mr Carey had one less thing to worry about while he recovered from a serious car accident brought about through illness. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 4, 2018

NZ’s pig-headed rejection of GM is putting our agricultural future at risk – Andrew Allan:

Ignorance of the facts of genetic modification poses an economic risk to New Zealand, writes a professor of plant biology.

There is a new agricultural-based green revolution beginning around the world, and it’s a technique you’ve probably heard of before: gene editing. New types of rice, wheat, tomato, maize, soybean and other crops created through the CRISPR-Cas9 technology are already growing in fields in America and beyond. These enhanced products include wheat with a 30% increase in grain weight and tomatoes with a 5-fold increase in vitamin A levels. The issue however is that these crops rely on ‘directed’ changes to DNA, which we categorise as ‘genetic modification’ (GM) under NZ law. This is despite the fact that the changes made are exactly the same as that created by sunlight, and a lot less than that from traditional breeding. This categorisation makes it near-impossible for our country to join this green revolution. Worse still, the value we currently gain from our plant-based economy is under threat from far better crops being developed quickly around the world. . .

Sheep and beef farmers bullish about the future but watchful of challenging headwinds:

More than two thirds of sheep and beef farmers are positive about the future of the industry, according to research by Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

Sixty-eight per cent of sheep and beef farmers surveyed in the August 2018 quarter are confident – the highest level since B+LNZ’s first launched the research in November 2010.

Sheep and beef farmers’ positive mood contrasts with gloomy headlines on business confidence elsewhere in the economy, as well as recent inaccurate claims made by the Productivity Commission about the “marginal” nature of the sector. . .

Using images to misinform – Alison Campbell:

The internet, while it can be a godsend if you need to find something out (gotta love google maps for directions), can also be a wretched hive of wrongness and misinformation.

That misinformation can take many forms, but when it comes to 1080 it’s clear that those opposed to NZ’s use of this chemical firmly believe that a picture is worth a thousand words. Any picture.

Thank goodness for the ‘reverse image search’ function in Google. For example, on the Facebook page for the group New Zealands not clean green, in amongst photos of animals that may or may not have been killed by 1080, we find several of animals that weren’t. For example: . .

More farmers turn to DNA parentage testing to improve productivity:

This spring, upwards of 250,000 calves from around the country will have their parentage confirmed by LIC’s DNA parentage service which operates from its laboratory in Hamilton. So far this year, the co-operative has had on average one new herd a day sign up to its DNA parentage service.

LIC’s General Manager of NZ Markets, Malcolm Ellis, says the increased demand reflects the industry’s new reality of “peak cow”. . .

Wrightson Seeds suitor DLF cites research capability, export growth –  Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – Danish producer DLF Seeds says its research capability makes it a strong potential acquirer of PGG Wrightson’s grains and seeds business. The firm is seeking clearance from the Commerce Commission for the $421 million purchase announced in August. . .

Silver Fern Farms Announce Winners of Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships 2018:

Six inspirational young people from around New Zealand have been named as the Silver Fern Farms Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships recipients for 2018. Each winner received $5000 to further their careers in the red meat sector. Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says he is delighted to see the passion young New Zealanders have shown for the red meat industry through the applications submitted to the annual scholarship programme.

   

Rural round-up

September 22, 2018

Changes on the farm are improving water efficiency:

A water tax isn’t workable – but changes on the farm are improving water efficiency

IrrigationNZ says that introducing a nationwide water tax is not workable, and that allowing irrigators to continue to invest in more modern irrigation systems rather than taxing them will result in the biggest improvements in water use efficiency.

“A water tax has been considered in other countries internationally but in every case it has been abandoned. Other countries have found it too complex and expensive to design a fair water tax which can be easily implemented without resulting in adverse outcomes,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Andrew Curtis. . .

1080 drop to go ahead after failed legal bid :

A conservation group has failed in its legal bid to stop a 1080 drop in the Hunua Ranges near Auckland.

The Friends of Sherwood Trust won a temporary injunction in the Environment Court halting the major pest control programme two weeks ago.

It argued that the drop breached the Resource Management Act which prohibits the dropping of substances in beds of lakes and rivers.

However today the court refused the Trust’s bid to further halt the drop.

“We are not persuaded that there is likely to be serious harm to the environment if the proposed application proceeds.” . .

Plans for huge tahr cull upset Otago hunters – Simon Hartley:

A sweeping cull of at least 17,500 Himalayan mountain tahr proposed by the Minister of Conservation, Eugenie Sage, has outraged some recreational hunters in Otago.

Ms Sage’s sudden announcement of the high killing ratio may yet be challenged in court.

Killing of the tahr, which are related to goats and were introduced here in 1904, is to start within two weeks.

Ms Sage is proposing the Department of Conservation kill 10,000 animals in various areas in the Southern Alps over the next eight months because the animal’s estimated 35,000 population was “three times” that permitted by the long established Himalayan Tahr Control Plan. . .

Meat firms need more staff – Chris Tobin:

South Canterbury meat companies are so desperate for workers to start the new killing season they are recruiting overseas.

Immigration NZ has approved work visas for 24 migrant employees to work at Alliance Smithfield this season.

Figures released to The Courier by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) show Immigration NZ has also allowed Silver Fern Farms to employ 49 overseas workers in Canterbury, although the information did not specify what the break-down figures between the company’s two plants at Pareora and Belfast, Christchurch, were.

Work visas for 18 overseas workers for Anzco Foods at Ashburton have also been approved. . .

New Everyday FarmIQ pack targets mainstream dairy and livestock farmers.

A new range of software subscriptions from FarmIQ address the growing information needs of New Zealand dairy and livestock industry.

With a clear focus on the information needs of dairy and livestock farmers, the new packs will help mainstream New Zealand farmers run more productive and sustainable operations.

Darryn Pegram, FarmIQ Chief Executive Officer, said subscriptions start at $55 a month for the new “Everyday FarmIQ” software pack, delivering a broad suite of recording and reporting tools. . .

 ‘High-yield’ farming costs the environment less than previously thought – and could help spare habitats -“

New findings suggest that more intensive agriculture might be the “least bad” option for feeding the world while saving its species – provided use of such “land-efficient” systems prevents further conversion of wilderness to farmland.

Agriculture that appears to be more eco-friendly but uses more land may actually have greater environmental costs per unit of food than “high-yield” farming that uses less land, a new study has found.

There is mounting evidence that the best way to meet rising food demand while conserving biodiversity is to wring as much food as sustainably possible from the land we do farm, so that more natural habitats can be “spared the plough”. . . .


Rural round-up

September 8, 2018

Action groups are still growing – Neal Wallace:

More than 700 farm businesses have joined Red Meat Profit Partnership Action Network Groups with more than half them in three regions.

Most groups have been formed in Waikato-Bay of Plenty with 133, Canterbury 118 and Otago 114.

The top five areas of interest are animal performance, financial management, business planning, feed management and pasture management. . . 

Plant protein not a threat :

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Simon Limmer is not overly concerned about the threat of plant-based meat substitutes.

Limmer’s transition from chief operating officer of Zespri to chief executive of Silver Fern Farms has been seamless.

He notes protein consumption is growing worldwide and NZ is not going to be able to supply the world. NZ doesn’t need to be everything to every consumer, he says. . .

More than $22m loss for Norhtland dairy farmers as Fonterra slashes forecast milk price – Imran Ali:

Income for Northland dairy farmers will reduce by $22.5 million under Fonterra’s revised forecast payout for next season.

The dairy giant revised its 2018/19 forecast farmgate milk price from $7 per kg/MS to $6.75 per kgMS this week in response to stronger milk supply from the world’s key dairy producing countries.

Northland’s 1030 dairy farms supply about 90 million kg/MS each year. A payout of $7 as earlier announced would have fetched them $630m but $6.75 per kg/MS would earn $607.5m— down $22.5m. . .

Tea from an unlikely source – Mark Daniel:

Best known as the dairy capital of New Zealand, Waikato can also claim to be the nation’s home of tea. 

The Zealong Tea Estate, just north of Hamilton, is NZ’s only commercial tea grower.

The Zealong story starts in 1996, when Vincent Chen noticed the region’s abundant camellia bushes — the same Camellia sinensis that is used to produce white, green, black and oolong teas.  . .

Ballance to reinvest its surplus – Alan Williams:

For the first time in four years Ballance Agri-Nutrients has surplus earnings to reinvest in the business after the rebate payment to farmer shareholders.

The fertiliser co-operative has confirmed a bottom-line profit of $9.19 million for the year ended May 31.  

The rebate took $56.8m though only $39.4m was paid in cash with the balance allocated for new shares, further helping the cash position, the annual report said. . .

Crowdfunding saves a Jamberoo family from losing its livelihood – Rebecca Fist:

A drought-striken Jamberoo dairy farmer reached out for help, and found relief through his neighbour and drought funding campaigner Jason Maloney.

Jamberoo Road farmer Michael Harris has been working 12 hours a day, seven days a week to keep the dairy running, take care of his pregnant partner Natalie Fava, and put food on the table for their three children, and his brother living with a disability, Randall.

For months, Michael watched the prospect of keeping the family farm diminish before his eyes, like the grass on his land. . .


Rural round-up

June 17, 2018

Infected cattle bring opportunity for study – Sally Rae:

It will not be possible to control Mycoplasma bovis if an eradication attempt fails, given the present lack of understanding of the infection and the “gross inadequacy” of existing diagnostics, Emeritus Prof Frank Griffin says.

Otago-based Prof Griffin, whose career has focused on animal health research, described that as the “sad reality”.

He believed the Government’s decision to attempt eradication first was the correct one, even though it brought considerable public liability for taxpayer funding. . .

TB work will help fight M. Bovis:

Eradication of Mycoplasma bovis could be supported by the 25-year legacy of co-operation between OSPRI/TBfree and AgResearch in tracking and researching bovine tuberculosis.  Richard Rennie spoke to Dr Neil Wedlock, one of the country’s senior bTB researchers on what can be learned.

Collaboration between AgResearch scientists and disease control managers at OSPRI TBfree and its predecessor the Animal Health Board has led to important technical breakthroughs resulting in a drastic reduction in the prevalence of bovine tuberculosis in livestock.

Eradication of TB from the national herd by 2026 will be hailed as a disease control success story but there are some challenges to deal with before that happens. . . .

Trio share their travels through hills and valleys – Toni Williams:

You can’t go from mountain to the next mountain without going in the valley,” says farmer and author Doug Avery.

Mr Avery, along with Paul ”Pup” Chamberlain and Struan Duthie, was guest speaker at a Rural Support Mid Canterbury session at the Mt Somers Rugby Club rooms.

Rural Mid Cantabrians were encouraged to ”take a break” with the trio as they spoke of their life experiences – the ups and the downs.

From front-line policing during the 1981 Springbok tour, reaching rock bottom farming in drought-stricken Marlborough to cracking open emotions, they shared it all.

All three spoke of the importance of having a mentor, or a support network of people to help when times were tough. . .

Pure taste sours :

Meat companies have asked Beef + Lamb New Zealand not to launch the Taste Pure Nature origin brand in North America fearing it will confuse consumers and give competitors a free ride.

The Lamb Company, a partnership between the country’s three largest lamb exporters Alliance, Anzco and Silver Fern Farms, has spent 54 years jointly developing the North American market.

Its chairman Trevor Burt fears the origin brand will clash with its Spring Lamb brand. . .

Climate change discussion ‘direction of travel’ is positive – Feds:

The National Party’s five principles on which it will base emission reduction policies, including science-based and taking into account economic impact, are spot on, Federated Farmers says.

The Opposition’s support for a bi-partisan approach to establishing an independent, non-political Climate Change Commission was outlined by Leader Simon Bridges in a speech at Fieldays this morning.  National’s three other emission reduction criteria are technology driven, long-term incentives and global response.

“We’re delighted that the Coalition Government, and now National, have both signaled their recognition that there’s a good case for treating short-lived greenhouse gases (such as methane) and long-lived (carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide) differently,” Katie says. . .

Different treatment of methane the right thing for global warming:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is pleased to see a differentiated approach, to treat methane differently to long-lived greenhouse gases, being given serious consideration in New Zealand’s climate change policy dialogue.

“Policy must be underpinned by robust science and be appropriate to the targeted outcome. If the outcome we want is climate stabilisation, then the science is telling us to treat long-lived gases differently to methane in policy frameworks” says DCANZ Executive Director Kimberly Crewther . . .

This generation of women not just farm wives anymore – Colleen Kottke:

For many generations, the heads of farm operations across America were likely to be men clad in overalls wearing a cap emblazoned with the logo of a local seed dealership or cooperative.

Back then, most women were viewed as homemakers who raised the children, kept the family fed and clothed, and were delegated as the indispensable “go-fer” who ran for spare parts, delivered meals out to the field and kept watch over sows during farrowing – all the while keeping hearth and home running efficiently

Although many of these duties were important to the success of the farm, they were often looked upon as secondary in nature. Today women are stepping into the forefront and playing more prominent roles on the farm and in careers in the agribusiness industry once dominated by their male counterparts. . .


%d bloggers like this: