Rural round-up

20/02/2021

Regenerative farming fight sad – Anna Campbell:

The New Zealand Merino Company and wool brands Allbirds, Icebreaker, and Smartwool have announced they are working collectively with 167 sheep growers to create the world’s first regenerative wool platform, which represents more than one million hectares in New Zealand.

Consumers want products produced through regenerative farming practices. In the United States, the high-end supermarket chain, Whole Foods Market, declared that regenerative agriculture was the No 1 food trend for 2020. Given some of the environmental challenges we have in New Zealand farming, regenerative farming surely makes sense from a production and marketing perspective?

Well maybe — it certainly sounds good, but do we understand what regenerative farming means and what it means specifically in a New Zealand farming context? . . .

Native trees come with some caveats – Richard Rennie:

Planting more native trees for carbon sequestration features strongly in the Climate Change Commission’s (CCC) recommendations released this month. Scion scientists Dr Tim Payn and Steve Wakelin are leading work to help provide a better understanding of how native trees can be integrated back into New Zealand’s landscape and carbon soaking toolbox. Richard Rennie reports.

While recommending more native trees be planted in coming years, the CCC also notes there is limited knowledge on cashflows and carbon absorption rates for natives.

Steve Wakelin and Dr Tim Payn agree in principle with this goal to plant more natives for carbon benefits, but also want to highlight the additional environmental and biodiversity benefits of this focus.

They also note there is a devil in the detail behind the commission’s recommendations. . . 

Grand house’ hosts eco-tourism business – Mary-Jo Tohill:

You can take the farmer out of the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the farmer.

Catlins eco-tourism couple Lyndon and Gill McKenzie supposedly left agriculture 21 years ago for pastures new.

Mr McKenzie grew up at Merino Downs at Waikoikoi, between Gore and Tapanui, and Mrs McKenzie at Mataura.

Since they sold the farm in 2000, life has taken the dynamic duo on a series of jobs and ventures in Wanaka, Cromwell, Dunedin and Australia. They’ve done hospitality, mining and even run an outback diner. . . 

Kate Stewart – her story:

The confidence to create my career 

Next Level graduate Kate Stewart on taking charge of her future in agriculture, following the AWDT leadership and governance development programme. 

“I have a checklist now to vet any new opportunities that come my way. It’s called the ‘is this what Kate wants and is good at’ checklist.”

For Kate Stewart, Next Level was about taking ownership of her new career. At 24-years old, the Palmerston North local and Dairy NZ regional consulting officer was considering new leadership opportunities, but unsure of where to turn next. . .

A day in the life of an arable farmer  – Simon Edwards:

New Zealand’s arable industry is worth $2.1 billion each year to the economy, and earns us $260 million in export sales.  It also employs more than 11,300 Kiwis.

It’s a diverse sector, and a world leader in both volume and quality producing the likes of radish seed, white clover seed and carrot seed.

But while many New Zealanders could probably offer some general details about what a dairy or sheep and beef farmer gets up to in working day, the daily tasks facing an arable farmer might be more of a mystery.  So we decided to ask some Federated Farmers arable sector leaders what they’re currently busy with, starting in the deep south… . . 

£1m micro food business scheme to open in NI :

A £1m capital grant scheme will open in March to help small Northern Irish food firms upscale production to secure new markets for their produce.

The aim of the Micro Food Business Investment Scheme is to enable firms that are processing primary agricultural produce to expand.

Grants of between £5,000 and £50,000 will be made available to micro food and drink manufacturing businesses.

A micro enterprise is defined as an enterprise which employs less than 10 full time equivalent employees with a total annual turnover of less than £1.8m. . . 


Rural round-up

09/01/2021

Feds call on government to correct misleading water stats – Neal Wallace:

The Government has been accused of using selective freshwater quality data and analysis to mislead public opinion on the true health of our waterways.

Federated Farmers says the Government’s freshwater quality analysis is so deficient and its public statements so selective that it misleads the public to believe our waterways are worse than they actually are.

Its Our Freshwater 2020 report provides examples of the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) and Statistics New Zealand using selective data in press statements on reports on the state of freshwater.

Federated Farmers is calling on the MfE and StatsNZ to publicly correct or clarify assertions they have made and to change their methodology.  . .

Putting the bite on 5 myths about meat – Simon Edwards:

If one of your New Year resolutions was to do better for your health and the planet by eating less meat, thumbs up to you.   Can’t fault the desire to be a more conscious consumer.

But before you entirely swap out beef steaks and rack of lamb for eggplant and lentils, you might check out the new edition of The Role of Red Meat in Healthy and Sustainable New Zealand Diets.  Released last month, it’s the fourth edition of a report that captures the evidence base underpinning the ongoing nutritional work of Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

It’s just livestock farmer spin?  Well, 20 of the 88 pages in the report are swallowed by references to national and international research and scientific papers covering health, food systems and sustainability.  And cons feature with the pros – for example, the report notes that evidence for the carcinogenicity (ability or tendency to produce cancer) of processed meats is “convincing”, and the need for our sheep and beef sector to continue work on improving its impact on water quality is acknowledged

Retracing our wheel-marks – Steve Wyn-Harris:

When I started writing this column 25 years ago, we had two small lads and a third about to make an appearance.

The three of them were under five for a year until they started drifting off to school.

Busy times, and when I see others now with something similar, I’m reminded how great those times were but also pleased that the busyness, the constant vigilance required and the turmoil are well behind us.

One of my greatest pleasures was taking all three out on the two-wheeler with two sitting in front and the youngest in the backpack. . .

 

Cow production improved by genetic research and tech :

Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) say continued investment in gene discovery and genetic analysis technology is allowing their farmer shareholders to improve cow production valued in the millions.

Investment into the understanding of bovine genetics undertaken by LIC scientists indicates farmers could be missing out on production to the tune of up to the tune of up to $10 million each year.

The co-operative spent $16 million on research and development during the 2019/20 season.

The discovery of genetic variations have been made from the farmer-owned co-operative’s database of genotyped cows and bulls and validated through on-farm inspections. . . 

Envy becomes the apple of global eye:

T&G Global are predicting that their Envy apple will become a billion-dollar brand by 2025. The apple had a record season in 2020, with the entire New Zealand crop sold well before the end of the year.

In 2020, 1.9 million tray carton equivalents (TCEs) of New Zealand grown Envy were sold, a 23% increase on the previous year across the United States, China and Asia.

This was part of a wider Envy sales programme of TCEs per annum, grown in both hemispheres.

T&G Global’s chief executive Gareth Edgecombe says that despite the market volatility caused by Covid-19, Envy sales have remained strong and the company is moving quickly to plant new trees to meet global consumer demand. . . 

Virginia Tech researchers find that removal of dairy cows would have minimal impact on greenhouse emissions – Max Esterhuizen:

The removal of dairy cows from the United States would only slightly reduce greenhouse gas emissions while reducing essential nutrient supply, Virginia Tech researchers say.

The dairy industry in the United States is massive. It supplies dietary requirements to the vast majority of the population.

This same industry also contributes approximately 1.58 percent of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions. A commonly suggested solution to reduce greenhouse gas output has been to reduce or eliminate this industry in favor of plant production.

A team of Virginia Tech researchers wanted to uncover the actual impact that these cows have on the environment. . . 


Rural round-up

20/10/2020

New government needs to release the uncertainty handbrake – Andrew Hoggard:

As politicians engage in a last-week frenzy of campaigning and sniping and mall walkabouts, it’s now up to the voters.  Surely there’s enough at stake this election to galvanise even the most jaded elector into exercising their democratic right. 

COVID-19 and our push for economic recovery is just another reason why we need MPs who will listen carefully, work hard and put pragmatism ahead of rigid ideology.

Farmers, like all New Zealanders, are vitally interested in Saturday’s result.  The fact that agricultural issues have gained more of the spotlight on the hustings and in the televised debates this time around than in some elections past is probably due to recognition that we need thriving primary industries if we’re to dig our way out of the pandemic financial hole, and start to pay back some of the billions of dollars borrowed since March.

Federated Farmers has hammered three key issues that the nation needs to get right if we’re to look after our producers, the backbone of our exports and our environment.  Whatever government dominates the front benches after the weekend, we need: . . 

MfE steadfast on winter grazing dates – Neal Wallace:

Dates by when grazed winter cropped paddocks must be resown were included in freshwater legislation to provide regulatory compliance, Government officials say.

The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) says in response to questions from Farmers Weekly, the resowing dates provide “regulatory certainty” and that they will not be changed.

“Without a fixed date the status of the activity, that is whether it was permitted or needed a consent, could remain unresolved after it concluded. This would have made it difficult for councils to enforce,” they said.

Introduced as part of the Government’s essential freshwater rules, most of NZ-grazed winter crop paddocks must be resown by October 1. . .

Katie Milne wins Agricultural Communicator of the Year:

West Coast dairy farmer and former President of Federated Farmers Katie Milne was last night named the 2020 Ravensdown Agricultural Communicator of the year.

The award recognises people making a significant contribution to communicating agricultural issues, events and information.

Katie Milne was the first female President of Federated Farmers in its 118-year history and served between 2017 and 2020. She advocated on behalf of farmers affected by M-bovis and helped spearhead the subsequent eradication programme. Most recently she argued powerfully to have primary sector businesses recognised as essential services during the Covid-19 lockdown. . .

Honouring our wartime ‘land girls’ – Simon Edwards:

The ‘Land Girls’ are largely unsung heroes of New Zealand’s World War II experience and Fiona, Lady Elworthy, of Timaru was determined that in her district at least there should be a memorial to them.

While men took up arms against the Axis enemies, Women’s Land Service (WLS) members placed on farms back home had their own sorts of battles with totally unfamiliar tasks, long hours, isolation, equipment shortages – and with prejudice.

Thanks to the efforts of Lady Elworthy, former Women’s Land Service members Sadie Lietze now 97, and Joan Butland – who forged her father’s signature at age 17 so she could join the WLS – a plaque and seat will be unveiled during a ceremony and picnic at Maungati in South Canterbury on Sunday.

The memorial sits among the cherry trees and native plants of Rongomaraeroa (the Long Pathway to Peace), a reserve established by Lady Elworthy to honour her late husband.   Sir Peter Elworthy, a former Federated Farmers president, was a Nuffield Scholar who was also founding president of the NZ Deer Farmers’ Association. . . 

Fonterra’s Chile investment looking good :

Fonterra’s Prolesur is leading the charge in the dramatic recovery in Chilean milk production as the company reaps the benefits of rebuilding relationships with farmers.

The Latin American nation’s liquid milk collection reached 1.3 billion litres in the first eight months of the year, up 6.3% from a year earlier, or 79 million litres. More than half of that increase went to Prolesur. This compares to the 12.8bn litre collection in New Zealand in the first eight months of the year. 

“Prolesur has been working over the last 18 months to regain milk volumes that it lost in 2018-19. This has been achieved through working closely with farmers to regain trust and competitive pricing,” Prolesur managing director Erich Becker said.

Prolesur collected 147ML versus 103.5ML in the eight months through August 2019, a whopping 42% lift. Fonterra’s other Chilean business, Soprole, also posted an increase, collecting 124ML versus 120m in the prior year. . . 

 

 

Villa Maria Estate launches  the New Zealand’s first wine-based seltzer:

New Zealand’s most awarded winery, Villa Maria Estate, owners of the Villa Maria, Esk Valley, Leftfield, Vidal and Thornbury brands, is launching the country’s first wine-based seltzer – LF Wine Seltzers.

The iconic wine business founded in 1961 will launch LF Seltzer later this month, a product crafted using its premium Leftfield wines, sparkling water and locally-sourced natural botanicals in three flavours – Yuzu, Mint & Cucumber with Sauvignon Blanc, Pear & Ginger with Pinot Gris and Strawberry & Hibiscus with Rosé.

The move comes amidst a serious shake up of the RTD category which continues to expand in line with the booming global seltzer market. . . 

From paddock To Ponsonby – dogs’ appetite for possum growing nationwide:

Kiwi pooches’ growing appetite for possum is helping to create jobs and putting a dent in New Zealand’s pest population.

In the past year, New Zealand dogs have devoured more than 100,000 kg of possum meat – or approximately 70,000 possums – in the form of Possyum dog rolls and dried treats.

New Zealand’s largest possum meat dog food producer Fond Foods has seen demand for Possyum double since 2017 and has recently hit a milestone of 500,000 kg of possum meat used in its possum meat products since 2010. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

02/06/2019

National’s support ends if methane targets don’t change – Simon Edwards:

National will not support the Zero Carbon Bill passing into law if “ridiculous” methane targets are not wound back, the party’s climate change spokesperson Todd Muller said.

“I totally reject the view that when there is no ability to mitigate (methane emissions), you just push on regardless,” he told the Federated Farmers Taranaki agm in Stratford on May 24.

Farmers had some tough questions for him on why National had supported the bill in its first reading.  Muller said he achieved “about eight of the ten things I wanted” in terms of the framework for a new Climate Change Commission, and it was “better to be in there wrestling for something sensible” than throwing rocks from the outside . .

Pig catastrophe in China opens opportunities for NZ meat exporters – Point of Order:

Many New  Zealanders may  be unaware that China, home to  half the world’s pigs, is suffering  a  catastrophic outbreak of African swine fever.  According  to  one  authoritative estimate, the disease may have  wiped out one-third of the population  of 500m  pigs.

The  London  “Economist”  says  that for as long  as it takes  China’s pig industry  to recover —which may be   years—farmers  elsewhere  may have  cause to  celebrate.  Yet  foreign producers cannot  make up  the vast amount of production  which  will be  lost —and American pig farmers have tariffs imposed on them as part of the ongoing trade  war  with China.

So, as  Point of Order sees it,  a big opportunity is opened for  NZ  food  producers, particularly  meat exporters,  to  be  diverting  as  much of their product  as  they can to  China. . . 

The value of meaningful protest – Gavin Forrest:

I value the right to protest. Without protest and people standing up for a better society or against threats to their current way of life many of my friends would not be able to exist in the way they do today.

Farming wouldn’t  be the way it is today if it were not for the actions of those who came before us.  

While still in shock farmers protested in the streets of Wellington against a background of having subsides ripped from them with little to no consultation and at breakneck speed in the 1980s. . .

Woman makes history at dog trial championships – Sally Rae:

Sheer grit helped former Otago woman Steph Tweed make history as the first woman to win a New Zealand dog trial championship.

Miss Tweed (27) won both the North Island and New Zealand championship straight hunt at the New Zealand championships in Northland this week with Grit, whom she describes as a “once-in-a-lifetime” dog.

It was an all-male final, apart from Miss Tweed, who topped the first round with 97 points to clinch the North Island title, and then won the run-off with 95.5 points to secure the national title. . .

Women set to drive change in New Zealand’s meat industry :

Woman working in the meat industry have gathered for an inaugural meeting of the New Zealand chapter of Meat Business Women (MBW) in Napier this week, to outline their vision for a positive future for the sector.

Ashley Gray, General Manager of Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Chair of MBW New Zealand has been instrumental in launching the professional networking initiative here in Aotearoa and says there is plenty the group can achieve once underway.

“Once I began on this journey, the interactions I had with women working in the supply chain, were for me – revolutionary. Women in our sector are incredibly passionate. They are forward thinkers, conversation starters, game changers, shakers and movers and I believe, collectively, have a huge role to play in shaping how the meat industry is perceived and operates in years to come. . . 

Appropriate rural midwifery resourcing must be addressed:

The College of Midwives is calling on health officials and the Minister to urgently address the shortage of midwives and facilities in the Southland DHB region.

The College’s Chief Executive, Alison Eddy, says contrary to the DHB CEO, an ambulance is not an entirely appropriate place to have a baby – something that happened earlier this week between Lumsden and Invercargill.

“I’m not going to repeat the issues related to having a baby on the side of a road in an ambulance however this is something that underlines significant ongoing issues in this area of New Zealand,” she says. . . 

Jersey cows star in new single-breed milk launch:

Lewis Road Creamery today launched a new range of milk sourced solely from Jersey cows, as it unveiled the first single-breed standard milk to go on sale in supermarkets nationwide.

“The Jersey cow is rightly famous for her milk. It is richer, creamier, with higher butterfat and a more velvety texture,“ said Peter Cullinane. “A single-breed milk really lets those qualities shine.”

Mr Cullinane said as a dairy producing nation, New Zealanders deserved to have access to the best possible drinking milk, free from PKE and permeate. . . 

New directors elected to Horticulture New Zealand Board:

Horticulture New Zealand’s Board welcomes re-elected directors Barry O’Neil and Hugh Ritchie, as well as new director Kathryn de Bruin, after four candidates contested three vacant Director roles.

Kathryn de Bruin joins the Board with a wealth of experience in the vegetable sector. Based in Dargaville, she splits her time between an accountancy practice focused on the primary sector, and growing 40ha of kumara with her husband Andre.

Katikati kiwifruit grower and Chair of Tomatoes NZ, Barry O’Neil offered himself for re-election, and has served as Board President since the departure of former President Julian Raine at the end of last year. . . 


Rural round-up

18/09/2018

Old values and new practices – Glenys Christian:

Richard Cookson and his wife Louise Cullen studied at Lincoln University but then went overseas for work at scientists rather than heading for the farm. However, 12 years ago they answered a call to return home and now run a cow and goat dairy unit.

They not only enjoy it but are proud of what they are doing and want all New Zealanders to be proud of farmers as the keepers of Kiwi values. They are leading by example, not just on the farm but also by giving back to the sector and community and setting environmental standards. . .

Lamb prices pushing the limit – Annette Scott:

Lamb prices are not aligned with global market fundamentals, prompting a warning of a looming correction.

Procurement prices as high as $8.70 a kilogram are out of whack from a global perspective but reflect the limited number of lambs in the market, Alliance livestock and shareholder services general manager Heather Stacy said.

While the weaker New Zealand dollar is playing a key role in keeping lamb prices up, a push-back is imminent. . .

Better understanding of nutrient movement – Pam Tipa:

We need a better understanding of nutrient transport across catchments, says Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE), Simon Upton.

And he says we also need better understanding of what nutrient models can and can’t do to assist in building a picture and better communication of what is happening to water quality. . .

Young Farmers’ Next 50 message: move with he times or wither – Simon Edwards:

There were some blunt words on glyphosate, fake meat burgers and farmers who won’t embrace change at the Wellington Young Farmers Club’s 2018 Industry Function.

During a panel discussion The Next 50: Future of Farming the conversation roved from 3D conferencing and holograms to Maori business models, and from disruptive technologies to milking sheep.

Dr Linda Sissons, of the Primary ITO, agreed with other speakers that increasing numbers of people will need to re-train every 10 or 15 years, if not more frequently.  Her organisation was introducing a suite of ‘Micro-credentials’ – short and sharp courses that farmers and others in the primary sectors could study in between other commitments. . .

German investment company to sell central North Island farms in Taihape and Waikaha – Sam Kilmister:

German company is offloading two central North Island farms, totalling about 1150 hectares.

Aquilla Capital, an asset management and investment company, bought the two sheep and beef blocks in 2012, but the Taihape and Waikaha properties are being offered for sale within the next month. 

The European company bought the farms on a fixed-term investment, requiring them to be sold by a specific date.

MyFarm, a Feilding-based investment service, oversaw on-farm operations. Its sheep and beef director Tom Duncan said the two properties were much better than when they were bought six years ago. . .

Cricketers’ company spins NZ lamb onto airlines’ menus:

Premium airline travellers departing India are now being served Pure South lamb from New Zealand.

Lamb is on the menu for first-class and business class passengers flying Air Canada, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, United Airlines and Air France after QualityNZ, Alliance Meat Co-op’s India partner, signed an agreement with two airline catering companies in India.

QualityNZ, whose shareholders include cricketing legends Sir Richard Hadlee, Stephen Fleming, Daniel Vettori and Brendon McCullum, is also celebrating success in the foodservice sector with Pure South lamb now available at more than 300 five-star hotels in India. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

27/02/2017

We will be sorry when we say Bye Bye birdie – Tim Gilbertson:

Slow motion catastrophe: Another massive Hawke’s Bay drought is looming.

Fifteen years ago climate scientists predicted that severe droughts would strike every five years rather than every 20 years. The boffins were close to the mark. The 2006/7 drought cost the East Coast $700 million in lost production and set the region back for years. That’s what droughts do. This one won’t be much different. That’s why we started to look at water storage and irrigation.

But since New Zealand is now 95 per cent urban and 30 per cent of us live in Auckland, there is little or no understanding of rural issues amongst the population at large. Last week on talkback radio, an Auckland DJ was lamenting the fact that he lost cellphone coverage when he went under motorway bridges and that Auckland didn’t have 4G.

“We live,” he said “in a Third World country.” He certainly lives in a different country from much of rural New Zealand where there is no cellphone coverage at all. . . 

Kiwi farmers take risks every day – it’s what they do – Simon Edwards:

Massey University professor Nicola Shadbolt says it always makes her laugh the number of well-meaning commentators who pronounce that we need to teach farmers how to manage risk.

“I think ‘have you any idea how much risk our farmers handle on a day-to-day basis’? It’s what they do, and they’ve done it well for many years.

“Ever since subsidies came off it’s been ‘you’re it. There’s no one to prop you up,” she says.

“There are always new tools to use, and new worries sitting on the horizon, but that doesn’t mean our farmers don’t have some of the innate characteristics to make it work. They do. Just see how quickly our farmers adapt to things.” . . 

Hill country water well worth it – Annette Scott:

A new report has revealed huge environmental and economic gains for hill country farmers investing in stock water reticulation.

The first such study, done by AgFirst agricultural economists Erica van Reenen and Phil Journeaux, quantified the benefits of installing onfarm stock water systems on hill country farms.

The study last year involved investment analysis of 11 hill country sheep and beef farms across New Zealand where farmers had invested in stock water systems.

“There had been anecdotal reports of how good stock water systems contributed to production but not a lot of evidence. . .

Poachers fined for shooting $5000 stag on Te Puke farm – Allison Hess:

Two men have been fined for shooting and killing a stag worth $5000 on private farmland in Te Puke, in a bid to deter others from poaching.

Shane Robert Williamson and Matthew Warren Miller were sentenced to pay $750 each plus court costs in Tauranga District Court yesterday by Judge David Cameron.

The Te Puke men pleaded guilty to theft of an animal, after shooting a stag on private property owned by farmer Murray Jensen on Te Matai Rd on April 10 last year.

Judge Cameron said the two friends left their vehicle near Mr Jensen’s farm on Sunday April 10, 2016 and made their way onto the farmland, where stag and hines run freely through a mix of dense bush, pine trees and open paddocks. . . 

Scholarship to bring Shaun’s farming dream closer – Esther Taunton:

Former Stratford High School head boy Shaun Rowe has been awarded an FMG agriculture scholarship for this year

Rowe, who grew up on a 10-hectare lifestyle farm near Stratford, will receive $5000 towards his tuition fees for each year of his agricultural science degree at Massey University.

It is the second agriculture scholarship Rowe has received in recent months, having been a recipient of a $5000 award from the Alexander and Gladys Shepherd Scholarships Trust in November.

The FMG scholarship recognised his academic, sporting and leadership achievements, as well as a passion for agriculture. . .

Farming with children – how to do it safely – FarmingMumsNZ:

Farming offers a unique environment and wonderful opportunities for children/adolescents to learn, grow, develop in and to learn the value of hard work and responsibilities. Traditionally we have seen farming as a ‘family affair’ with parents, children and grandchildren by the generations, learning and passing on the skills of our land.

With the changes to our now not so typical farming communities, we are seeing people from all sorts of backgrounds bring their skills into our agricultural industry, from city slickers to foreigners – looking for a better life or a new career. With this we often loose the common sense that comes with being raised on a farm, meaning more training in Health and Safety needs to become a priority. . . 

Farmer gets frank in job advert for stock man: ‘Can be a smoker – but won’t have the time’ – Tess Brenton:

Tired of phone-obsessed people, a Waimate farmer decided to employ a more direct approach for his next hire.

Initially, the community newspaper advertisement appeared straight forward, with a stockman and a labourer position available.

But then, contractor and farmer Geoff Wallace said he wanted to make it very clear the people he wanted and the people he did not. . .


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