Rural round-up

April 23, 2019

Leaked report sheds light on mine project – Simon Hartley:

The prospect of an open pit diatomite mine in Middlemarch has caused division, and many are concerned about the effects of hundreds of trucks, mine dust, and the loss of Foulden Maar (MAAR), a “pre-eminent” fossil cache.

There are also corporate links to controversial palm oil plantation developments.

With no information released since mid-2018, Simon Hartley revisits the proposal, based on a leaked investment document penned by investment bankers Goldman Sachs.

A proposal to mine diatomite near Middlemarch for the next almost 30 years appears to have stalled as feasibility studies and regulatory hurdles take their toll. . . 

Farmstrong: Stop and sell the roses :

Time off farm is the number one wellbeing priority for farmers but many are still reluctant to take breaks. 

Kate and Mike Gee-Taylor of Rangiwahia are on a mission to change that.

They own a typical family farm, a 566ha sheep and beef operation in hill country at Rangiwahia in Manawatu. Mike grew up there and met Kate 28 years ago. They still both love the area and the lifestyle.

But life’s thrown up a few challenges too. Two years ago Kate fell ill and nearly died. It took 30 units of blood to save her. . .

Otago farm’s food award:

The Crutchley family from Maniototo high country have claimed a top award in this year’s Food Producer Awards with their Provenance lamb.

The family’s Provenance brand won the Ara Wines Paddock Champion Award for a lamb product judges praised for its juiciness, moistness and good flavours. 

David and Glenis Crutchley’s 6121ha dryland farming operation near Naseby transitioned from conventional farming systems to biological farming eight years ago. They dropped conventional fertilisers for fish-based nutrients and a focus on building up soil micro-bacterial activity. . . 

Representing dairy in the south – Sally Rae:

On May 11, the national winners of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will be announced at a black-tie awards dinner at TSB Arena in Wellington. The South will be represented by Southland-Otago share farmers of the year Cameron and Nicola van Dorsten, farm manager of the year James Matheson and dairy trainee of the year Caycee Cormack. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae attended the regional winners field day at the van Dorstens’ property last week.

Farm ownership remains one of the goals of Taieri dairy farmers Cameron and Nicola van Dorsten.

The couple, who won this year’s Southland-Otago share farmer of the year in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, are 50:50 sharemilking 575 cows on a 204ha farm owned by Ray Parker and Sharon Corcoran

Businesses using blockchain, invisible ink to protect mānuka honey – Esther Taunton:

Jars of mānuka honey are being marked with invisible ink and tracked with blockchain technology in an effort to keep counterfeit products off the market.

The honey has become such a precious commodity, producers are using increasingly high-tech methods to prevent imitation.

Midlands Apiaries, manufacturers of Puriti mānuka honey, has introduced jars with 11 consumer security and anti-counterfeit features, including invisible ink and laser etching. . .

Farming is tough but we don’t always want it easy – Glen Herud:

The hard thing about doing hard things is it’s always a lot harder than you expect.

So it’s best to quit right at the start of the project. Quitting early will save a lot of heartache and pain.

The only time you should not quit is when you’re absolutely prepared to pay the price that this difficult project will inflict on you.

But the problem is we don’t really know what the true cost is until we’re well into a hard project. . .

 


Rural round-up

March 12, 2019

It’s all about the bloodline – Luke Chivers:

Central Hawke’s Bay farmers Harry and Kate de Lautour are dedicated to bloodline but it isn’t just about their ancestry. Luke Chivers reports.

From  the crack of dawn to the close of day sheep and beef farmer Harry de Lautour is set on challenging his animals for the betterment of their health.

The 31-year-old from Flemington has a long-standing connection with the primary sector, sheep genetics and performance recording.  

Growing up in rural New Zealand instilled that passion.

“I grew up on a sheep and beef farm in Hawke’s Bay and absolutely loved it,” he says. . . 

Auckland wants to protect productive soils – Neal Wallace:

In the next 30 years up to a million new houses could be built in Auckland on designated land that excludes elite and prime soils.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1The city’s rural-urban boundary provides an urban edge with 15,000ha – equivalent to twice the urban area of Hamilton – of rural land identified for future urban expansion, Auckland City Council urban growth and housing director Penny Pirrit said.

In addition, land in Auckland’s existing urban area has space for another 240,000 houses.

Supplying infrastructure for that degree of expansion is estimated to cost $20 billion over 30 years.

When the council was formed in 2010 one of its first roles was to plan for future residential and industrial growth. . . 

Good start to grape harvest – Simon Hartley:

Central Otago’s grape harvest is well under way and recent dry conditions are having barely any effect, Central Otago Winegrowers Association past president James Dicey says.

Harvesting started late last month, mainly of sparkling grape varieties and other varieties are due to start soon, through to mid-to-late March.

While Australia’s wine sector has been devastated by its hottest summer on record and drought, Central Otago has not been similarly hit, despite the past summer in New Zealand having been recorded as one of the hottest on record. . . 

Wilding pines are ‘a blanket of green like a marching army over a landscape’ – Georgie Ormond:

It looks like a harmless Christmas tree but Pinus Contorta is wreaking havoc on the landscape in some parts of New Zealand.

Tragically, Contorta was originally planted in the central North Island for conservation, to help stabilise the alpine scree slopes, and for forestry.

Fifty years later it’s an insidious wilding pine that is taking over the Central Plateau.

Craig Davey from Horizons Regional Council says that’s because Contorta has the lightest seed of all our pinus species. . . 

Finding satisfaction in contrary conditions – Mike Weddell:

The end of the fishing season is not far away but it does not seem long since it started, so we need to make the most of it.

Conditions have been great for fishing recently and it seems like not much will change in the short term.

My last two outings were scorchers, bright sun and little wind which, combined with clear water, were great days.

Reading traditional fly-fishing books, they mostly state that these are the worst conditions for fishing – but in my experience, the contrary is true.

Some of my best days ever have been on hot sunny days. . . 

‘Head in the sand’ approach outdated – Richard Kohne:

There is a fine line between a consumer fad and a long-term structural shift in a way of thinking, but most people in food production would agree that the Australian consumers’ focus on sustainability is here to stay.

This means a “head in the sand” approach is well and truly off the table. In fact, most producers are well aware of the risk they take when delaying their response to such a shift in thinking, and so are now looking for a way to meet this consumer desire. 

Few might appreciate however, that responding to this desire for sustainable produce could in fact make them more profitable. . . 


Rural round-up

February 14, 2019

Irrigation goes high-tech to preserve Christchurch aquifer – Heather Chalmers:

Farmers irrigating just north of Christchurch are using the latest technology to ensure not a drop is wasted.

Preserving water quality is also front of mind as the land they irrigate is geographically linked to an ancient, slow moving aquifer which also supplies domestic drinking water to the city’s residents. 

In the first project of its type in New Zealand, the latest in digital technology has been rolled out to Waimakariri Irrigation’s farmer-shareholders, taking the guesswork out of irrigating.   . . 

Challenge ahead for smaller wineries – Simon Hartley:

A caution has been thrown out to New Zealand’s smaller, domestic market wineries which might be finding it more difficult gaining access to distribution channels.

Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface said the industry in New Zealand had grown substantially in recent decades.

“The industry is heavily concentrated in Marlborough, which specialises in sauvignon blanc production”, about three-quarters of the country’s wine production, by value, she said.

The New Zealand winemaking industry has an annual turnover of $2.5 billion and wine exports have doubled in the past decade to $1.7 billion per year, becoming the country’s sixth largest export by commodity. . . 

New opportunities for agri-food:

Changes being driven by computer scientists in the agri-food sector are providing new opportunities for Kiwi farmers.

The disruption, which is changing what we eat, was the focus of the KPMG farm enterprise specialist Julia Jones’ keynote speech at the Young Farmers Conference.

“There’s a restaurant in Boston with a robotic kitchen,” she said.

Spyce is a world-first and was created by four robotics-obsessed engineers who wanted healthy food at a reasonable price. . . 

Students experience agriculture – Richard Smith:

Kotara Kikuchi, a second-year student at Tono Ryokuho High School, an agricultural school, is on a home stay with three other boys from his school to do farming.

Kikuchi wants to experience agriculture, however, “I want to be a fisherman after graduating from high school”.

Fellow schoolmate Tokiya Ogasawara, 16, hasn’t decided what he wants to be. 

“But there’s nothing outside agriculture that I want to do,” he said. . . 

Agtech is not going to be a road to riches – here’s why – Glen Herud:

Agtech is quite trendy in New Zealand at the moment. But it’s unlikely to be a road to riches for those involved.

I would caution any entrepreneur from developing a tech solution for farmers.

No doubt, technology will change how agriculture is conducted. Just as it is changing all aspects of our lives.

But that doesn’t mean you can actually make any money out of developing some fancy technology solution for farmers. . . 

Joint call made to end non-stun slaughter in UK

The RSPCA and the British Veterinary Association have joined forces to call on the government to repeal a legal exemption that permits animals to be slaughtered without pre-stunning.

Both groups say slaughtering without pre-stunning causes ‘unnecessary pain and suffering’.

The latest figures from 2017/18 reveal that over 120 million animals were slaughtered without being stunned first – more than three animals slaughtered every second on average. . . 


Rural round-up

December 14, 2018

Windsor Blue off to home of cheese– Simon Hartley:

Oamaru cheesemaker Whitestone Cheese has clinched an important export deal, having just delivered its first consignment of 100 rounds of Vintage Windsor Blue cheese to France.

Whitestone managing director Simon Berry said that to be shipping to Europe where cheesemaking was established showed that ”as new-world cheesemakers we’re coming of age”.

The first pallet-sized consignment, weighing about 250kg, was pre-sold to multiple customers and then delivered to France last month, with a follow-up order expected in the new year. . .

Grape, cheery growers competing for land – Guy Williams:

Wine and cherry growers are competing for land, resources and labour as both industries experience strong growth.

Mt Difficulty Wines co-owner James Dicey, of Bannockburn, said much of the planned investment in horticulture in Central Otago was expected to be in new cherry orchards.

That industry was undergoing a boom after several good years, with the total number of hectares planted in cherries poised to overtake grapes. . .

Farmers want DIRA gone – Annette Scott:

Farmers delivered a consistent message to the Ministry for Primary Industries when they met in Ashburton to consult on the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act review.

“We are a bit over it, and that’s an understatement,” Mid Canterbury dairying stalwart Ted Rollinson said.

His sentiment was largely echoed by all farmers at the meeting that unanimously agreed it’s time for open entry and exit to go, followed by raw milk regulations and access to regulated milk for Goodman Fielder. . . 

Approval given for Alliance to bring in workers – Alan Williams:

Meat processor Alliance has approval to bring in 100 workers from overseas for its Lorneville sheep plant in Invercargill.

They’re expected to be on hand for the peak February to May period, Alliance people and safety general manager Chris Selbie said.

“We’re delighted as it will make a real difference in addressing the staff shortages we had last season.

“We’ll start now to get on and find them.” . . .

Ahead with technology – Anne Hardie:

A cow chewing her cud has long been an indicator of cow health. Anne Hardie reports how monitoring collars can help show how a cow’s ruminations are affected by the state of their health.

Information from cow monitoring collars shows Adam McManaway and Kirsten Daymond the changes in ruminations and activity of every cow in their 465-cow herd so they know the state of their health long before an issue is picked up by eye.

Whether it’s calving, cycling, lameness, mastitis or anything that interrupts their usual grazing pattern, it will affect rumination and activity which is revealed on the computer graphs, or in acute situations prompt a notification from the phone app.

The couple are 50:50 sharemilkers 15 minutes north of Murchison in the Top of the South and were a demonstration farm for the Allflex Livestock Intelligence collars for the first couple of years. It was a convincing experiment for them and when it finished a year ago, they invested in collars for the entire herd which was a big financial commitment for a couple who had just taken on their first sharemilking contract. . . 

Local lingo keeps Uruguay pair on toes – Yvonne O’Hara:

Central Otago farmers have their own way of speaking, which makes it interesting for Uruguayan students Lorena Andiarena (21) and Ana Goncalvez (24).

Ms Andiarena comes from Salto and usually works on her parents’ 350ha beef property while studying to be a veterinarian. ‘

‘I have been all my life in agriculture,” she said. Ms Goncalvez is from Tacuarembo and had been studying farm management


Rural round-up

September 27, 2018

Pasture pests costing economy billions:

Pests most commonly targeting New Zealand’s pastures are costing the economy up to $2.3 billion a year, an AgResearch study has found.

The study is the first of its kind to estimate the financial impact of invertebrate pests such as the grass grub, black beetle, nematodes and weevils in terms of lost productivity for pastoral farming.

The full science paper has been published this week in the New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research and can be found here: . .

Alliance meat company paid too much for winter export lambs cutting profit – Heather Chalmers:

Meat company Alliance Group says it paid too much for export lamb over winter, which has hit its profit. 

Alliance chief executive David Surveyor said that in lamb markets there had been a “fundamental disconnect” between the laws of supply and demand.

“For the last three months lamb prices overseas have been flat, but domestically the export lamb price to farmers has gone up by $20 a head to procure animals.

In the last few weeks Alliance has cut the price it pays for lamb “as it was not sensible to continue at this level of pricing”, Surveyor said. . .

Westland Milk Products final payout for 2017-18

Westland Milk Products has reported a final milk payout of $6.12 per kilo of milk solids (kgMS), less a five cent retention, delivering a net average result for Shareholders of $6.07 per kgMS.

Chairman Pete Morrison noted that a substantial number of Shareholders received an additional premium on the net result of 4.4cents per kgMS for providing UHT winter milk and colostrum, giving them a net average payout of $6.11. . .

Fonterra: ‘lots to do to get basics right’ – Simon Hartley:

China poses several challenges for Fonterra and a2Milk, and both organisations face the likelihood of short term volatility in sales and earnings.

Fonterra’s woes stem from its poor full year result and rising milk prices pressuring profit margins, but it also has to make a decision on its much criticised 18.8% stake in Chinese infant milk formula company Beingmate, which it bought for $755million in 2015.

And a2 Milk could face some short term volatility with recent changes to Chinese law impacting on the thousands of informal ”daigou” traders selling on numerous e-commerce and social media platforms in China. . .

Apple industry welcome release of seized plant material:

New Zealand Apples & Pears Incorporated (NZAPI), the industry’s representative association, has welcomed the Ministry for Primary Industries announcement that 20,000 apple plants have been cleared for release from all restrictions imposed following their seizure after being imported from a US testing facility.

An MPI audit of the facility in March had found that there were incomplete or inaccurate records associated with this material, which raised the prospect of a biosecurity risk. . .

Minister Sage forced to postpone her tahr hunt

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has been forced to postpone the mass tahr cull she ordered to start this weekend because of huge pressure from recreational hunting and tourism industry, National’s Conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie says.

“Ms Sage personally ordered the culling of tens of thousands of tahr without adequately consulting with the hunting industry and recreational hunters who would be directly affected

Prospects good for anglers – Jono Edwards:

Anglers are waiting with bated breath for a healthy southern fishing season.

Otago Fish and Game officer Cliff Halford said yesterday most fisheries in the region were in ”good condition” for the opening of the season on Monday.

”Certainly, weather conditions play a part in how opening day will pan out and it looks like we will get some clear skies.”

While snow expected this week could impact water clarity, so far there were not expected to be any ”major rain events” between now and opening day. . .

More farmers turn to DNA parentage testing to improve productivity:

Farmer owned co-operative LIC has seen an increase in demand for its DNA parentage testing service as livestock farmers place increasing emphasis on cow quality over cow quantity.

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. . .

Hancock’s tech transformation has animals, staff in mind – Shan Goodwin:

THE technology transformation and infrastructure rollout taking place across the 34 cattle properties now in the Hancock Agriculture portfolio is as much about leading the way in animal and worker well being as it is about delivering efficiencies.

From the day of acquisition of each station, Hancock’s Gina Rinehart has expected an allowance be set aside for animal welfare investments.

So far that investment is running in the millions. . .

NFU joins forces with food supply chain to tackle food waste:

The NFU is today announcing its support for the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap and is encouraging its members to play their part in tackling food waste in the supply chain.

The initiative, run by the charities Wrap and IGD, aims to have 50% of the UK’s largest 250 food businesses measuring, reporting and acting on food waste by 2019. It is working towards milestones to help halve UK food waste by 2030.

NFU President Minette Batters said: “This is an incredibly important initiative by Wrap and IGD, and the NFU is very pleased to be able to support it. Farmers are the first step in the supply chain, producing the raw ingredients that make up the safe, traceable and affordable domestic food supply that helps to feed the nation. . .


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

July 24, 2018

Crooks beware – Neal Wallace:

Tough new laws for stock rustlers have gained cross-party support and could be law within months.

The Sentencing (Livestock) Rustling Bill initially introduced by the National Party’s Rangitikei MP Ian McKelvie in June last year has since garnered support from all parties and will make the theft of livestock an aggravating factor for sentencing.

That effectively increases the severity of the crime, giving police more options in the charges laid and sentencing by the courts. . .

RMA guidelines concern Federated Farmers – Dene Mackenzie:

Federated Farmers is expressing its concern about new Resource Management Act guidelines released by Environment Minister David Parker.

The guidelines are intended to assist councils in their monitoring and enforcement duties under the Resource Management Act.

Enforcement of the rule of law would always be essential to encourage broader compliance, Mr Parker said.

“This is true in criminal, transport, taxation or environmental law . .

Unintended results of investment curbs – Simon Hartley:

Proposals to curb foreign investment in New Zealand may have unintended repercussions for the horticulture and viticulture sectors around the country.

Instead of curbing foreign ownership, aspects of the proposals could result in foreign owners instead opting to buy more vineyards and land outright, undermining efforts to keep more assets in New Zealand hands.

Crowe Horwath partner and agribusiness specialist Alistair King said the proposed Government restrictions and legislative changes on foreign investment were aimed at reducing the amount of foreign investment in New Zealand’s pristine assets, such as high-country stations and large tracts of land . . .

DairyNZ facility a world first for methane measurement:

A groundbreaking methane research facility in Hamilton has been established at DairyNZ’s Lye Farm. It’s already yielding some interesting results from recent studies and has great potential for further research projects.

Managing and reducing dairy cows’ methane emissions is crucial to the future of sustainable and profitable dairy farming in New Zealand. That’s why, in 2015, DairyNZ worked with a collaborator in the USA to develop a novel system for measuring methane. This equipment, installed at DairyNZ’s Lye Farm research facility two years ago, is a world first and it’s already proving its worth. . .

Methane tools in the pipeline:

Methane inhibitors are looking like one of the most promising tools to reduce New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.

Here’s how your DairyNZ Levy is being used alongside other partner funding to contribute to the latest research.

The Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGgRc) aims to provide knowledge and tools for New Zealand farmers to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The consortium works in collaboration with the New Zealand government and it’s partly funded by farmer levies, including DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand – two of eight funding partners.

PGgRc general manager Mark Aspin says the two problem greenhouse gases for New Zealand are methane and nitrous oxide. . .

Apiculture New Zealand asks industry to vote on the introduction of a commodity levy:

Apiculture New Zealand (ApiNZ) is now consulting with the apiculture sector on the introduction of a commodity levy to help manage and leverage rapid industry growth.

Chief Executive, Karin Kos, today announced details of the levy at ApiNZ’s National Conference in Blenheim. The ApiNZ management team and Board members will hold eight consultation meetings across the country to speak with honey producers and beekeepers about their involvement in the levy process. . .

Bayer Central Otago Young Viticulturist of the Year 2018 announced:

Congratulations to Annabel Bulk from Felton Road who became the Bayer Central Otago Young Viticulturist of the Year 2018. This is the second consecutive year Bulk has taken out the title as she was also the winner in 2017.

“I put more pressure on myself this year as I was determined to defend the title and go through to the nationals again” says Bulk. Her study and preparation obviously paid off and she is thrilled to represent Central Otago once again in the National Final. . .

Cesnik wins Young Champion Award – Jamie-Lee Oldfield:

Accessing new information isn’t always easy for the latest generation in the sheep and wool industry.

Which is why Young Champion Award winner Lexi Cesnik is so passionate about increasing knowledge transfer, especially among younger participants.

“There is a lot of new technology coming out, and a lot of that work is being done with extension in the private sector, meaning accessing knowledge is not as straight forward for young people in the industry as it has been in the past,” Ms Cesnik said. . .

Farming from the frying pan to the fire this year – Till the Cows Come Home:

April 2018 was a tough month. Every week, we hoped that the rain would stop and each week, the weather forecasters dashed our hopes as fields remained waterlogged, grass grew slowly and livestock lived indoors eating the last of the winter fodder. Many farmers, mostly those on drier land and accustomed to having their livestock out in February and March, ran out of fodder and had to purchase more.

The cows were indoors for months on end this winter. Every day of April was boring and repetitive, feeding cows, scraping and liming cubicles, trying to empty slurry tanks by a foot or so on a dry day, waiting for the weather to take up so we could get on with the spring jobs. Even when the rain stopped and the sun shone on the occasional day, the land was still too wet to withstand the weight of cows. On sunny mornings, the cows stopped and looked at me in disbelief as I directed them towards their cubicle shed, before they walked in unwillingly and begrudgingly. I didn’t know who to feel more sorry for – the cows or the farmers. . .


Rural round-up

May 17, 2018

Climate ambassadors the next step in dairy’s plan :

Fifteen dairy farmers have been chosen to profile the climate change cause as New Zealand’s Climate Change Ambassadors.

This is the next step of the dairy sector’s plan to create a culture of climate conscious agribusiness amongst farmers and the broader dairy industry, says DairyNZ Chief Executive Tim Mackle.

“These fifteen men and women all represent best environmental farming practice for their farm system,” says DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle. “They run their farms profitably and sustainably and are serious about reducing on farm greenhouse gas emissions. . .

Savvy couple win at Dairy Industry awards – Stephen Bell:

Northland couple Dan and Gina Duncan are technologically savvy and care about people, the environment and cows and while doing very well at dairy farming.

Their efforts were rewarded when on Saturday night they were named the Share Farmers of the Year.

Gerard Boerjan from Hawke’s Bay-Wairarapa is Dairy Manager of the Year and Simone Smail from Southland is Dairy Trainee of the Year. 

The judges said the Duncans are passionate, professional and committed. . .

Dairy trainee of the year grateful for employers’ support – Nicole Sharp:

In three years, 24-year-old Simone Smail, of Invercargill, has come a long way in the dairy industry.

Being presented the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year award at Stadium Southland on Saturday night, Miss Smail was overcome.

She thanked her family for their support, her bosses Steve and Tracy Henderson for giving her a start in the industry and everybody else she had met along the way. . .

Lamb prices expected to stay high – Simon Hartley:

Key lamb export markets are paying  14%  more for product so far this season, with record highs  for this time of year,  ASB rural economist Nathan Penny says.

He said AgriHQ  reported lamb supply remained tight  and competition among processors was still keen given the  relatively low levels of slaughter.

“It follows that underlying demand is also solid …  all key export markets are paying 14% or more so far this season compared to last season.”  . .

Increasing biodiversity is a priority at Craigmore Station – Kate Guthrie:

Every year David Bielski, manager of Craigmore Station in South Canterbury, plans to spend $50,000 of the station’s budget on fencing, planting trees and labour to increase biodiversity on the property.

An impressive 51 hectares of land already consists of native plant species and is under various QE II covenants and game keeper John Brownley has been controlling a full range of pests on the station for over 10 years.

“Our pest tally for last year was 120 feral cats, 30 ferrets, 13 stoats, 214 hedgehogs, 19 (recorded) rats, 260 rabbits, 155 possums, 6 wallabies and 57 hares,” David confirms. “Numbers go up and down. We try to minimise pests, but we never get on top of them.”. . .

Is Labour anti-farming? – Jamie Mackay:

Environment Minister David Parker has an interesting background in agriculture.

He oversaw the due diligence on both the science and the intellectual property for the A2 Corporation and was one of its first two employees. It’s now a $9 billion dollar company.

Unfortunately, for him, he sold his start-up shares to avoid a conflict of interest when he became a politician.

Here’s an interesting excerpt from an interview I did with him on my radio show last week: . . .

Farmer suicide research not a priority for govt:

A release of official documents confirms the Ardern-Peters Government does not consider further research into farmer suicide to be a high priority, National’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“Documents relating to a funding application for Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) show how officials successfully persuaded the Minister of Health David Clark and the Minister for Primary Industries Damien O’Connor that further investment into farm related suicide research is not a priority at this stage,” Dr Reti says.

“This astounding admission continues the Government’s dismissive attitude towards rural mental health – further compounded by the refusal to commit to a school of rural health. . .

Future guardians get their hands dirty planting on Mauao – Scott Yeoman:

A busy winter season of planting has begun on Mauao in Mount Maunganui, with Ngāi Te Rangi’s future guardians getting their hands dirty and leading the way.

About 500 native plants were dug into a bank at the base of Mauao yesterday by 20 children under 5 and a team of adult helpers.

Ngāi Te Rangi’s Kia Maia Ellis said the Mauao Trust had a big kaupapa (policy) around restoring the korowai (cloak) at Mauao. . .

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Rural round-up

May 8, 2018

The problem is not dirty dairying, it’s still dirty government – Not PC:

Environment Minister David Parker is all set to tell dairy farmers how many cows he’s going to be let them have on their own farms.  This is, he claims, to fix “dirty dairying.”

But turns out you neither need nor want central planning to fix the alleged problem. What you do need is property rights — and common law.

Here’s a repost from 2008 that’s sadly topical again, explaining what that means… . . 

Give farmers who are having a free ride on the Feds a rev up, says Manawatu leader – Jill Galloway:

Freeloading farmers are getting a free ride when Federated Farmers goes to bat for them on rural issues, says a Manawatū leader.

Manawatū/Rangitīkei Federated Farmers president Richard Morrison said the value of Federated Farmers was often queried and everyone was after a tangible return for every dollar they spent.

“I can see why they want to know how the money is spent … however consider the wins we at the federation have had. There has been a benefit for farmers and rural communities.”

He said some farmers who were not members were getting an easy free ride on others. “Talk to those people and see if they will join up,” he told about 50 members at the region’s Federated Farmers annual meeting. . . 

Farmers have stake in caring for water: Waikato mayor – Craig Rowley:

At the heart of the Waimate district is the rural sector – farming that contributes to both the local and national economies.

Farmers have and continue to work hard to reduce any negative impacts on the environment. The establishment of water zone committees is one example of this.

The Lower Waitaki South Coastal Canterbury Water Zone committee is made up of local people, including farmers, who have a wide range of interests in water – the source, the use and the benefits that come with good water management practices. . . 

Commodity prices good but problems possible – Simon Hartley:

Commodity prices in many of the country’s agriculture sectors are in a “sweet spot” at present, but Brexit, US-China relations and global trade talks could yet create headwinds.

The waning strength of the New Zealand dollar has been in the headlines for the past week.The kiwi has been down 5% against its United States counterpart in recent weeks and at one point fell below US70c, boosting commodity prices in New Zealand dollar terms.

Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface said, from a revenue perspective, the country’s agricultural sector was “in a bit of a sweet spot”,  although there was  the odd exception. . .

Emma Lewin wins Tararua Shepherd of the Year :

Four candidates — two men and two women competed for the title of Tararua Shepherd of the Year 2018.

At the Greenhill Station Field Day on Friday April 27 Emma Lewin was declared the winner.

According to judge Damian Reynolds of Totaranui Angus each was put through their paces in a rigorous two-hour assessment on the properties where they currently work.

This involved both practical skills such as stock handling and shearing as well as knowledge of the industry and operation of the farm they work on. . . 

Not an easy fit for agricultural drones in broadacre – Sharon O’Keefe:

THEY take pretty pictures and if you choreograph your headers correctly, your drone video may even trend on social media. 

However, precision agriculture specialists and researchers are questioning the utility of drones for broadacre agriculture. 

McGregor Gourlay, national digital agriculture manager, Brooke Sauer said while her company was a drone stockist, she felt as a general rule, drones were more useful for purposes other than broadacre precision agriculture.  . . 

Cumbrian farmer tracks down stolen pregnant sheep:

FOURTEEN stolen pregnant ewes have been safely returned to their Cumbrian farm thanks to a high-tech marking system.

Pip Simpson, whose farm is at Troutbeck near Windermere, has been a victim of previous livestock thefts.

He turned to a tracing system to help protect his flock from criminals targeting isolated farms across the county.

TecTracer, a forensic sheep tracing system developed by John Minary, a former senior police detective, and a Swedish ballistics expert ingrains coded markers into a sheep’s fleece,“marking” them with a unique identifying code which makes it easy to trace which farm the sheep originated from. . . 


Rural round-up

April 23, 2018

I founded Happy Cow Milk to make a difference in dairying. I failed – Glen Herud:

He founded an ethical dairying company that would allow calves to stay with their mothers. Last week, Glenn Herud had to admit that his enterprise had failed.

I’m a third generation dairy farmer. The milk business is the only business I know. Four years ago I decided to find a way to do dairy in a more sustainable way.

I know New Zealanders want this. They want the land treated better, they want rivers treated better, and they want animals treated better. And they would like the option to buy their milk in something other than plastic bottles.

I founded Happy Cow Milk to make a difference. But last week I had to admit to myself that I failed. . . 

Record butter prices expected: economist – Simon Hartley:

Households, restaurants and bakeries be warned, butter prices are expected to rise well above last year’s records, already sitting just 5% below the highs set last September.

ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny said butter prices were already well up on the same period a year ago, and the seasonal lull in New Zealand milk production was still to come.

“We anticipate butter prices will shatter last year’s records over coming months,” Mr Penny said.

In October last year, butter prices were up more than 60% against a year earlier. By November, one Dunedin supermarket’s cheapest 500g block cost $5.90 and there were reports of $8 blocks in other Otago towns. . . 

Commercial Mycoplasma bovis test being developed:

A commercial diagnostic tool which will allow farmers to test for cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis themselves is being developed by a partnership comprising commercial laboratories, industry representatives and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

The tool will be released once sampling guidelines, a testing strategy and possibly an accreditation programme have been developed – to ensure the test can be accurately applied and interpreted. . . 

There’s more M bovis to come yet – Glenys Christian:

Up to three to four years of Mycoplasma bovis monitoring will be needed and more infected animals will probably be found next year, Primary Industries Ministry senior policy analyst Emil Murphy says.

“It doesn’t make animals sick directly,” he told Auckland Federated Farmers executive.

“It’s more like a cold sore where something happens to an animal which is weak already and M bovis  jumps in and makes it worse.”

Genetic analysis showed the local strain of M bovis is quite different to that seen in Australia for the last 10 years. . . 

Iwi in peat-mining venture say wetland is a wasteland:

The iwi involved in a peat mining venture in the Far North says it’s disappointed the Conservation Minister wants to derail it.

The Auckland company Resin and Wax Holdings has been granted resource consents to dig over land owned by the iwi Ngāi Takoto, in the Kaimaumau wetland.

The company plans to extract valuable industrial compounds from the peat, using a chemical process perfected in the United States.

The project has had several government grants from the Callaghan Innovation fund. . . 

Co-ops also present in German ag – Sudesh Kissun:

The power of cooperative agriculture is proudly on display at a dairy farm near the German city of Dresden.

The Agrargenossenschaft Gnaschwitz (Agri Co-op), in the town of Gnaschwitz, milks 460 cows year round with eight Lely robotic machines. Lely recently unveiled its new Astronaut A5 machine.

The co-op is owned by about 100 shareholders, each owning a small parcel of the farm. Following the reunification of Germany in 1990, land seized by the former communist regime in East Germany was returned to people if they could show evidence of their family’s ownership. .  .

Human ingenuity and the future of food – Chelsea Follett:

A recent article in Business Insider showing what the ancestors of modern fruits and vegetables looked like painted a bleak picture. A carrot was indistinguishable from any skinny brown root yanked up from the earth at random. Corn looked nearly as thin and insubstantial as a blade of grass. Peaches were once tiny berries with more pit than flesh. Bananas were the least recognizable of all, lacking the best features associated with their modern counterparts: the convenient peel and the seedless interior. How did these barely edible plants transform into the appetizing fruits and vegetables we know today? The answer is human ingenuity and millennia of genetic modification.

Humanity is continuously innovating to produce more food with less landless water, and fewer emissionsAs a result, food is not only more plentiful, but it is also coming down in price.

The pace of technological advancement can be, if you will pardon the pun, difficult to digest. Lab-grown meat created without the need to kill an animal is already a reality. The first lab-grown burger debuted in 2013, costing over $300,000, but the price of a lab-grown burger patty has since plummeted, and the innovation’s creator “expects to be able to produce the patties on a large enough scale to sell them for under $10 a piece in a matter of five years.” 

People who eschew meat are a growing demographic, and lab-grown meat is great news for those who avoid meat solely for ethical reasons. It currently takes more land, energy, and water to produce a pound of beef than it does to produce equivalent calories in the form of chickens, but also grains. So, cultured meat could also lead to huge gains in food production efficiency.  . . 

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Rural round-up

February 1, 2018

Let ideas flow on water management – Andrew Curtis:

Andrew Curtis is chief executive of IrrigationNZ, a national not-for-profit membership organisation for farmers and growers who use irrigation. It carries out training on efficient water use.

As year’s went, 2017 was a fairly dramatic one. In February, one of the biggest fires in New Zealand history ignited on the Port Hills amid tinder-dry conditions, causing thousands of residents to be evacuated. In March, the Upper North Island was soaked, Auckland experienced its wettest March day in nearly 60 years, and more than 300 homes were flooded.

July brought flooding to Otago and Canterbury, with snow and strong winds in other areas. The end of the year saw a marked change, with many regions experiencing record low levels of rain in November. . .

Remembering rain will come – Sally Rae:

Central Otago farmer Donny Maclean has a saying – ”we’re a day closer to rain than we were yesterday”.

It was important to keep remembering that, he said, as the searing heat continued to beat down on his Omakau farm, reaching temperatures up to 36degC on Monday.

”Central Otago will never let you down. It’ll take you right to the edge [but] it’ll come right in the nick of time,” he said.

Bellfield has been the Maclean family for 125 years and it was the longest period of continual heat Mr Maclean (56) had experienced during his years of farming.

”We’ve never been this hot this long,” he said yesterday. . . 

Long term effect on farmers considered – Simon Hartley:

The public and businesses are being urged to take a long-term view of the drought affecting Otago and Southland, given the compounding factors being faced by all farmers.

The lack of water, rising irrigation costs, failed crops, diminished feed stocks and crop replacement are just some of the issues being faced by farmers in the months ahead, Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan said, after a medium-scale adverse drought event was declared in parts of Otago and Southland yesterday.

”This drought is going to affect crops for some time yet, going into autumn and winter,” he said, when contacted, yesterday. . . 

Mycoplasma outbreak highlights flaws:

The formation of an action group to provide a voice for and to assist Southland farmers understand and deal with Mycoplasma bovis is a positive move.

It is good to see farmers, veterinarians and other members of the industry working together in the quest to eradicate the bacterial cattle disease.

Eradication remains the focus of the Ministry for Primary Industries and so it should, given the implications of the disease not only for New Zealand’s rural sector, but also the country as a whole. . . 

Exports and imports hit new highs in 2017:

Both exports and imports reached new highs in 2017, as New Zealand earned more from agricultural products and bought more cars and computers, Stats NZ said today.

“The previous high for the value of goods exports in a calendar year was 2014,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. “The previous high for imports was 2015.”

Annual exports were valued at $53.7 billion for the year ended December 2017, up $5.2 billion (11 percent) from 2016. Dairy products led the rise, up $2.8 billion to $14.0 billion. Meat rose $706 million to $6.6 billion. Logs, wood, and wood articles rose $546 million to $4.7 billion. . .

Monthly exports reach new record in December:

Exports of milk powder, butter, and cheese lifted total exports to a record $5.6 billion in December 2017, Stats NZ said today. Monthly exports were $1.1 billion higher than in December 2016.

“Record export values of dairy products drove total exports to their highest-ever monthly value,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. “The previous highest values for both dairy exports and total exports were recorded in the 2013/14 dairy export season, when dairy prices were at a high level.” . . 

Comvita will report 1H profit over $3M, confirms annual guidance on normal honey harvest – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita expects to report a “significant turnaround” in its first-half results, with net profit over $3 million, and says it is tracking in line with its full-year guidance after good weather in December and January boosted the honey harvest.

The Te Puke-based company, due to report its earnings for the six months ended Dec. 31, 2017, later this month, said the honey season has progressed to a point where it has early estimates of an average or normal harvest season, though it won’t have full visibility of the crop until April/May. The company’s chief executive Scott Coulter said it was a “welcome return to generally favourable weather conditions conducive to producing honey, compared to the extremely poor season in 2017.” . . 

The changing face of Agritech:

Industries rise, fall and evolve under the constant development of new and innovative technologies. Refrigeration changed how food was supplied, the lightbulb enabled us to utilise more hours in the day, the telephone connected people and the internet distributed information far better and quicker than ever before.

A new a wave of digital technologies is here. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoTs), blockchain, big data, robotics and automation are just some of the technologies currently impacting business. No matter whether it’s banking, engineering, retail or agriculture, these innovations are changing how each sector operates. . .


Rural round-up

January 31, 2018

Southern farmers feel the heat as crops fail – Simon Hartley:

Rural Otago and Southland continues to bear the brunt of the heatwave and farmers are facing hard decisions on destocking and replanting failed winter feed crops.

A smattering of rain across the North Island and upper South Island was allowing farmers there to consider holding on to stock for further fattening.

But in Otago and Southland meat processors are working to capacity as stock is sold off, according to Federated Farmers Otago province president Phill Hunt of Wanaka.

“The pasture has taken a hiding, dying in places. That will have to be replaced over the next two years, at a significant cost,” he said when contacted yesterday. . .

Southern drought meeting requested with minister – Rachael Kelly:

Southland and Otago Rural Advisory groups have written to Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor requesting him to declare a drought for both provinces.

Sweltering temperatures and little rainfall have put pressure on farmers as dry conditions have reached levels not usually seen in January.

Both Southland and Otago have formed drought committees with rural stakeholders including Rural Support Trusts, Federated Farmers, Dairy NZ, Beef and Lamb NZ, Fonterra, regional councils and MPI, and they are asking the Minister to declare a medium-scale adverse event classification.

Regions get drought  classification  – Sally Rae:

Drought in Southland and parts of Otago has been classified as a medium-scale adverse event following a request from drought committees and rural communities.

Yesterday, Agriculture and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor announced the classification – already in place in parts of the North Island and the Grey and Buller districts – had been extended to all of Southland, plus the Queenstown Lakes, Central Otago and Clutha districts.

That triggered additional funding of up to $130,000 for rural support trusts and industry groups to co-ordinate recovery support. . .

Two more farms found with Mycoplasma bovis in the South Island:

Mycoplasma bovis has been found on on two more farms, lifting the total number of infected properties from 18 to 20, the Ministry for Primary Industries has confirmed.

One of the new farms is in the Waimate district and the other is in Gore, Southland.

M bovis causes illness in cattle including mastitis, abortion, pneumonia, and arthritis. This illness is hard to treat and clear from an animal. Once infected animals may carry and shed the bacterium for long periods of time with no obvious signs of illness.

There are 11 infected properties in South Canterbury (Waitaki and Waimate Districts), six in Southland, two in Mid-Canterbury and one in Hawke’s Bay. . . 

A straight talking farmer with an appetite for risk – John King:

“I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it,” said late comedian Jonathan Winters.

North Cantabrian James Costello has a similar attitude farming sheep on 300ha of alluvial flats at Hawarden next to the Hurunui River.

His business remained profitable during three years of drought while many in his district did not.

James has a reputation for being an innovator and is active in the Hurunui/Waiau Water Zone committee and Landcare group. He knows you cannot be passive when faced with overwhelming odds. . .

The future of farming – Grant Leigh:

Younger generations are growing up surrounded by technology and the advancement of these technologies is ferocious.

Along with being frightening and daunting to most of us, it is also exciting, challenging and now more than ever necessary.

The biggest hurdle will not be the appetite for young farmers and supporting industries to do the job, it will be capital and viability. . . 

Federated Farmers’ Katie Milne opens up about the changing times – Michelle Hewitson:

After breaking a 118-year history of male leadership of Federated Farmers, Katie Milne wants to convince townies that rural folk are the same at heart.

When you take the head of Federated Farmers, Katie Milne, out for lunch, it’s redundant to ask if we’re going to eat meat.

“Ha! Yeah. You know what I saw on there,” she says, gesturing at the menu, “and wanted to have a go at and share? That crackling.” Have a go at! She’s a West Coast sheila through and through. I ordered the crackling. She had the beef and bacon burger and chips; I had black pudding and spuds. We were having a health lunch. “We are. We are,” she says. “It’s Friday. It’s a mental health day when you’re eating great stuff like this, isn’t it?” We cracked into the crackling. . . 

Soil health comes first then grass and livestock – Burke Teichert :

In recent columns, I’ve touched on the following topics:

• Empowered people, because everything in our businesses happens because of and through people – usually those closest to the business, land and livestock.

• Sustainability, because it’s such a buzz word and people outside of our business will have an impact, whether we like it or not. Also, ranchers don’t know all we should about the environment, particularly the ecosystem – its complexity and interconnectedness, and how it reacts to our management actions.

• Planning strategically first, and then developing tactics and operational schedules and methods to accomplish the strategic objectives. Too often, we do it backwards – starting with operations, then tactics, letting strategy be determined by default – with tactics defining our strategy. . . 

 


Rural round-up

November 4, 2017

Beef + Lamb pulls plug on the Glammies – Nicole Sharp:

For 10 years, farmers from throughout the country have entered their best of best in the Golden Lamb Awards, better known as the Glammies.

This year, looking to reinvest farmer levies in more crucial areas, Beef + Lamb New Zealand has pulled its funding from the event. Nicole Sharp reports.

After 10 years of celebrating farmers’ best-raised lamb, the Glammies are no more.

Since the event’s inception, Beef + Lamb New Zealand Ltd (BLNZ) has partnered with Beef + Lamb New Zealand Inc to run the event, with BLNZ the predominant funder.

In the past six months, BLNZ has been consulting its farmers and reviewing its strategy and anticipated revenue stream through to 2022. . . 

Wool prices lift but long way to go – Simon Hartley:

The worst appears to be over for wool prices but prices are still very low and the industry is ”still not out of the woods yet”, ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny says.

Prices for 39 micron wool, for example, had lifted 25% from the record low level set in July this year, he said. Despite the lift, 39 micron prices remained 28% below the 10-year average level, Mr Penny said in the latest ”Farmshed Economics” report.

Meanwhile, mid micron prices had been stable over recent months. Prices bottomed out earlier than coarse types towards the start of the year. . . 

 NZ King Salmon shares hit record on guidance uplift, sales growth -Tina Morrison:

New Zealand King Salmon Investments shares rose to a record after the fish farmer raised its 2018 earnings guidance, saying it expects to lift volumes while maintaining prices and improving production.

The stock climbed 3.5 percent to $2.35 and has soared 78 percent this year. They were sold in the initial public offering in September 2016 at $1.12 apiece. . . 

 – Keith Woodford:

[The article below was intended to be published some weeks back at The Conversation. The Conversation is the online portal, funded by Universities in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, where academics are encouraged to communicate and converse with non-academics. However, this particular article was blocked at the last minute by the Senior Editor(s) at The Conversation, having previously been approved within their editorial system. The Senior Editor(s) felt that the interests of associated commercial parties, who might benefit from dissemination of the article, were too great. A fuller story of that publishing saga will be posted shortly.
The content, formatting and supporting links are shown as originally agreed with The Conversation and reflect the prior input of one of their editors. This article can be freely republished, with or withut this foreword, but retaining the title as posted here, and with acknowledgements as to source [https://keithwoodford.wordpress.com].

Authors: Keith Woodford & Boyd Swinburn
Disclosures: See end of article

Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own insulin-producing cells, is on the rise globally.
Early evidence of an association between type 1 diabetes and a protein in cow milk, known as A1 beta-casein, was published in 2003. However, the notion that the statistically strong association could be causal has remained controversial.
As part of a seven-person team, we have reviewed the overall evidence that links A1 beta-casein to type 1 diabetes. Our research brings forward new ways of looking at that evidence. . . 

Sheep dairy better match for clean green image:

New Lincoln research points to sheep dairy better fulfilling the green credentials New Zealand uses to differentiate its produce in the global market than its cow counterparts.

Senior Lecturer in Agribusiness Management Dr Nic Lees co-authored the paper “Competitive advantage through responsible innovation in the New Zealand sheep dairy industry.”

It finds, rather than competing on cost the sheep dairy industry should promote sustainability and environmental benefits, and be innovative…

Website covers new ground for fertiliser spreaders:

A new website has been launched by the New Zealand Groundspread Fertilisers Association (NZGFA). The site – www.nzgfa.co.nz – promotes best practice fertiliser spreading. It was recently unveiled alongside a new logo at the NZGFA 61st annual conference.

The new site provides industry news and advice for groundspreaders as well as information for farmers, growers and other fertiliser users on how to find a local groundspreader accredited to Spreadmark, the industry’s standard. There is also career advice for prospective groundspreaders, and a video that explains training as well as potential salary. . . 

Allied Farmers unsure about the year ahead with weak first-quarter livestock sales – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – Allied Farmers’ first-quarter livestock earnings fell, although the rural services firm says it’s too early to say whether it will recover by the end of the current half or the financial year.

Earnings in the three months ended Sept. 30 were below the same period a year earlier “largely due to the impact of the wetter spring weather, which has generally had the impact of reducing livestock sales in this quarter,” the Hawera-based company said in a statement. Allied Farmers had previously predicted “careful growth” in the livestock business, tempered with a flat outlook for the meat processing business as overseas prices remain low. . . 

Harry is a prince among bull calves:

Harry the Hereford-cross, a hungry four-month old bull calf weighing 214kg has beaten his rival hands down in a competition between two DairyNZ research and development farms to raise the heaviest IHC calf.

Harry looked good from the start, arriving early in the season and weighing 50kg at birth. He had the right bloodline to wear the crown. His Dad was a pure bred Hereford and his Mum was a Friesian so he was already set on a winning course, according to Scott Farm Manager Ben Fisher. . . 

“When you cross a beef bull with a Friesian or dairy cow you get what’s known as hybrid vigour,” Ben says. “He’s got very good genes.”


Rural round-up

October 3, 2017

Mānuka roots found to assist water quality – Alexa Cook:

A new study has found that mānuka and kānuka plants reduce nitrate leaching into waterways.

Researchers planted young mānuka, kānuka, and radiata pine trees in containers, called lysimeters, which measure drainage and evapotranspiration from the soil, and then fertilised the plants with urea for 15 weeks.

They applied the equivalent of 800kg per hectare to each pot to simulate urine patches, because research shows that on grazed land, animal urine adds nitrogen at rates up to 1000kg a hectare, contributing up to 70 percent of nitrate leachates. . .

Westland Milk vows to up game – Simon Hartley:

Beleaguered Westland Milk Products has achieved a profit turnaround and promised co-op shareholders to do better this dairy season.

It has also confirmed its target forecast payout range of $6.40-$6.80.

Westland Milk Products payout to farmers of $3.88 per kilogram of milk solids, was the lowest in the country in the 2015-16 season, as the company booked a $10.3million loss. . . 

One new property positive for Mycoplasma bovis:

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ testing programme has identified one new property as positive for the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

The newly identified property is a Van Leeuwen Dairy Group farm which was already under a Restricted Place notice under the Biosecurity Act. . . 

New Zeapri chief picks up reins

Zespri’s chief executive of nine years Lain Jager stepped aside last week for new executive and long-time company man Dan Mathieson. Mathieson spoke to Richard Rennie about where he sees the marketer going after a period that has included the worst of times and the best of times for the industry.

Only four days into his new position Dan Mathieson is having to think hard about how he will balance the local, supply-focused challenges of growing more fruit in Bay of Plenty and beyond with the rocketing market growth being experienced out of the company’s Singapore marketing hub.

To help achieve that he intended to spend his time split evenly between head office in Bay of Plenty and the Singapore base he had headed up as Zespri’s global sales and marketing manager. . .

Beef exports hitting headwinds – Simon Hartley:

Further declines in beef prices have been predicted as the strength of the New Zealand dollar and falling United States prices weigh more heavily on exporters.
Rabobank animal proteins analyst Blake Holgate said beef prices had dropped “marginally lower” during the past quarter.

However, further downward price pressure was expected in the months ahead from increased Japanese tariffs on frozen beef imports, creating additional headwinds for Kiwi exporters, he said. . .

Win propels youngster on confidence track:

The confidence boost from winning the 2010 Dairy Trainee of the Year award is propelling a young sharemilker along a valuable career track, he says.
Blake Korteweg, a young herd manager from Otago, in 2010 entered the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards and won the Southland-Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year competition.

Later that year at the national awards gala dinner in Rotorua he was named 2010 Dairy Trainee of the Year.. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

September 28, 2017

Re-elected Taranaki King Country Barbara Kuriger keen to bridge rural urban divide

Re-elected Taranaki King Country MP Barbara Kuriger is to work hard to close the rural urban divide over the next three-year term.

Kuriger retained the safe rural seat for National with a majority of 13,994 with 100 per cent of votes counted, ahead of Labour Party candidate Hilary Humphrey.

Kuriger received 21372 votes to Humphrey’s 7378 votes. . .

Call to destigmatise rural suicide, depression  – Jemma Brakebush:

A farmer who recently lost a family member to suicide is calling for changes to the way mental health is talked about.

Sandra Faulkner farms just out of Gisborne and a member of her extended family took their own life last month.

The family and community were still reeling, and the farming sector needed to change the way it discussed mental health, she said. . .

Methane-chewing bacteria offer good prospects:

Two New Zealand scientists and a Monash, Victoria, biologist have shown that methane-oxidising bacteria (good for tackling greenhouse gas) are more flexible and resilient than previously thought.

Long term this could help the dairy industry in, say, the production of protein feeds. And because it shows the methane-oxidising bacteria working elsewhere, there are implications for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. . .

Farmer confidence in economy slumps – Simon Hartley:

Farmers’ confidence in the year ahead has taken a nosedive with concerns over government policies and volatility in commodity prices.

Given the increased pre-election scrutiny of clean waterways, irrigation issues and intensive farming practices, the rural sector will be holding its breath as coalition talks thrash out policy bottom lines.

In a separate ANZ business outlook survey yesterday, the political uncertainty also sparked caution in September with business confidence falling to a net zero reading, its lowest level in two years, where there were as many pessimists as optimists. . .

NZ structural log prices advance to 23-year high as mills compete with export demand –  Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand structural log prices edged up to the highest level in more than two decades as mills compete with the export market to secure supply for the local construction market.

The price for structural S1 logs lifted to $128 a tonne this month, from $127 a tonne last month, and is sitting 11 percent above last year’s level and 21 percent higher than the five-year average, according to AgriHQ’s monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and saw millers. The S1 structural log price is at its highest level since April 1994. . .


Rural round-up

February 1, 2017

Space-generated data could boost crops, save thousands:

Space-generated data will create more efficient irrigation and maximise crop yields, potentially saving farmers thousands of dollars, Alexandra farmer Gary Kelliher says.

Mr Kelliher is an implementation group member of the planned Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST) in Alexandra. He said having continual and improved access to space-generated data would allow for more efficient irrigation and greater crop yield,  and that better imagery and  daily information about plant density and health, biomass and fire risks would be some of the key possibilities for farmers once the centre  was established.

“The application possibilities are endless,” Mr Kelliher said. . . 

Border dyke system improving soil health at Masterton waste water plant – Piers Fuller:

Branded as “dinosaur technology”, fears about the effectiveness of Masterton’s $50 million waste water scheme’s irrigation system have  been proven unfounded.

Before the installation of  the border dyke scheme there was heated debate as to whether the method would destroy the soil quality.

Now fully functional, monitoring has shown that the 72 hectares of ground is doing a good job at absorbing the waste water and the soil quality is improving, after it was extensively excavated for border dykes. . . 

Young beekeeper ‘busts his arse’ to get where he is today – Pat Deavol:

Anyone who works a 12 hour day and lives on a work site is dedicated to their profession.

James Malcolm has lived this life for a decade, but the graft and commitment have paid off. At 28 he owns Natural New Zealand Honey Ltd, a beekeeping operation tucked under the tussock and beech-covered foothills of North Canterbury, with 3500 hives, a beekeeping HQ, and 16 full-time staff.

Backtrack 10 years ago and Malcolm had just completed a Diploma of Agriculture at Lincoln University and was helping out his father on the family cropping farm near Ashburton.  . . .

Young shepherd to represent NZ:

A passion for Angus cattle has seen Mount Linton Station shepherd Allen Gregory selected to attend the World Angus Forum in Scotland.

Originally from Gore, Mr Gregory is one of eight young Angus enthusiasts who will travel to the forum later this year,  representing New Zealand.

Last year, 12 people  took part in the selection day  run by Generation Angus.

“It was a mixture of theory and practical. We did some showing and some judging and we also had to write an essay,” he said. . . 

Farm course gets NZQA tick:

A programme designed to engage primary and secondary school students in farming can now be used to gain NCEA credits.

The resources, trialled in 10 primary and 16 secondary schools last year, help students learn more about the sector and promote awareness of the wide range of career opportunities.

It was developed by the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP), a Primary Growth Partnership programme working to help the red meat sector increase productivity and profitability.

Resources, including assessments within the programme, have now received the New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA) Quality Assured Assessment Materials (QAAM) trademark. . . 

Oceana sets 500,000oz gold target – Simon Hartley:

Oceana Gold has boosted its exploration and capital expenditure programme for 2017 to $US252 million ($NZ345.9 million), as it targets more than 500,000oz of gold in a calendar year for the first time in its 27-year history.

Its Macraes mine in east Otago has been the mainstay of operations for decades, and while other Oceana mines are challenging its production dominance, it is getting its fair share of exploration, works and expansion funding within the wider group during 2017.

Oceana, now the country’s largest gold miner accounting for about 98% of output, produced within guidance 416,741 oz of gold in 2016 overall, and 21,123 tonnes of copper from Didipio in the northern Philippines, the latter commodity a by-product of the gold mining which hugely offsets production costs. . . 

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It’s better to sit in a tractor and think about anything than to sit anywhere else and think about farming.


Rural round-up

December 19, 2016

Alliance develops super lamb – Jamie Gray:

Invercargill-based meat company Alliance Group has developed what it says is a new, tastier, class of lamb.

Alliance is part of the Omega Lamb Primary Growth Partnership – a group of 50 high country farmers and the Ministry for Primary industries – which was formed to come up with an improved product aimed at the premium end of the market.

The partnership aims to increase the total value of lamb and the share of value captured in New Zealand by building high quality, branded products.

Initial feedback from chefs and high end restaurants for the new class has so far been favourable, Mike Tate, general manager of the project, said. . . .

Tinwald bows out – Annette Scott:

The hub of Mid Canterbury’s livestock trading sold stock for the final time last Tuesday marking the end of a once-thriving sheep industry in the district.

As he opened the last-ever weekly sale PGG Wrighston Mid Canterbury livestock manager Greg Cook welcomed a large gathering of farmers, transport operators and drivers, former yardmen and past and present livestock agents.

“This a big turnout to acknowledge the history that goes with the end of an era for Tinwald,” Cook said.

The big yarding of more than 1500 prime sheep was a fitting farewell for 138 years of memories for the local farming community, he said. . .

Greaney at home as Tatum leader – Hugh Strigleman:

Brendhan Greaney feels right at home as the new chief executive of Tatua Co-operative Dairy Company and not just because he has served six years as operations general manager before his promotion.

He was born and raised three kilometres down State Highway 26 from Tatuanui, at Waitoa, where his father Claude was a site manager for New Zealand Dairy Group. . . 

Grass proves most profitable at research farm :

A grass-system dairy farm returned the best profit in the 2015-16 season compared to a cropping farm and a PKE supplement system in an ongoing trial in Northland.

The trial, on the Northland Agricultural Research Farm (NARF) is run by the Northland Dairy Development Trust (with NARF) and is funded by DairyNZ, MPI’s Sustainable Farming Fund and Hine Rangi Trust.

Farm working expenses per kg of milk solids were $3.59, $4.20 and $4.01, respectively, for the grass-only, cropping and PKE farms, says Chris Boom, AgFirst Northland, and Kate Reed, NARF farm manager, speaking at a field day this month. . . 

Last bid at world shearing record – Yvonne O’Hara:

Attempting a world shearing record over eight hours is similar to running two marathons, Roxburgh shearer Eru Weeds says.
However, regardless of whether he and his team-mates succeed or fail in the attempt, it will be the last time he attempts such a challenge.

Along with fellow shearers James Mack, of Dannevirke, and Luke Mullins, of Taihape, Mr Weeds, who is in Hawke’s Bay working, will attempt to set a world record for shearing ewes over eight hours on January 17 at Waitara Station near Napier.

He said the record was 1349. . . 

Theft of stock alleged  – Simon Hartley:

Allegations of widespread stock theft across the lower South Island have rocked Otago’s farming community, which collectively could be hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket.

Whether the allegations could be defined as poaching, theft or fraud is as yet unclear.

While the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is potentially looking at a wider alleged-fraud operation, police are only dealing with reports of individual cases of theft.

However, shell companies may have been used and there are claims farmers across Otago, and further afield, could collectively be hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket, with hundreds of cattle stolen. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 20, 2016

43 jobs axed at Mossburn works – Simon Hartley:

Silver Fern Farms has axed more 43 Mossburn meatworkers’ jobs as it rationalises killing shed numbers across the country.

While the closure is vaunted as an ”opportunity” for Silver Fern Farms, the Northern Southland job losses will gut the micro-economy of Mossburn, with its population of barely 200.

The new killing season at Mossburn was just about to start; now, plant decommissioning will start next month. . .

Devastating news for small town – Tracey Roxburgh:

The Deer Capital of New Zealand received a body blow yesterday when news broke of Silver Fern Farms’ plans to close its venison plant.

The mood in Mossburn yesterday afternoon was sombre and while no-one spoken to by the Otago Daily Times seemed surprised by the proposed closure of the plant, which employs 43 staff, all agreed it was devastating for the small town.

Silver Fern Farms announced in a statement it was consulting staff at its South Island Mossburn venison plant and at its North Island Wairoa mutton processing plant, on ”options for closing the two small sites”. . .

Silver lining in overseas efforts to ditch meat diet:

Meat exporters are unfazed by a campaign to shift the world away from meat to plant protein.

A group of 40 investment companies, managing about $1.8 trillion in assets, have launched a campaign to encourage 16 major companies including WalMart, Unilever, Nestle, Kraft Heinz, and Tesco, to change the way they source protein for their products, in an effort to reduce environmental and health risks.

The investment companies, brought together by the Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return (FAIRR) Initiative, have warned about the impact of meat production on the planet.

“The world’s over reliance on factory farmed livestock to feed the growing global demand for protein is a recipe for a financial, social and environmental crisis,” said Jeremy Coller, founder of the FAIRR Initiative and chief information officer of Coller Capital, one of the investment firms involved in the campaign. . . 

New Zealand King Salmon Lists on NZX & ASX

Aquaculture – a “healthy” portfolio ingredient

Salmon is on the menu at both the NZX Main Board (NZX) and the ASX with the listing today (19 October) of the world’s largest aquaculture producer of King salmon.

The initial public offer (“IPO”) for Nelson / Marlborough-based New Zealand King Salmon was for 69.2 million ordinary shares, quoted under the ticker NZK.

With the government supporting well-planned and sustainable aquaculture growth, New Zealand King Salmon sought $30.0 million in new capital to repay debt, and to fund future investment and working capital.

As a result of the fully subscribed IPO, and based on the $1.12 price per share, the company’s market capitalisation is $154.5 million, excluding certain shares offered under an employee share ownership plan. . . 

The reds have it in South Island Farmer of the Year finals

Three red meat producers and a Central Otago wine business will be up against each other for the finals of the Lincoln University Foundation 2016 South Island Farmer of the Year at Lincoln University on November 16.

The four finalists are:

James Dicey, a viticulturist and owner of Grape Vision Limited based in Bannockburn, Central Otago.

Lauren and Geoff Shaw, sheep and beef farmers in Central Otago, near Ranfurly.

Lyn and Neil Campbell, Campbell Farms, Middle Valley, near Fairlie in South Canterbury farming sheep, beef, bulls and deer, and arable crops.

Simon Lee, Manager Mendip Hills Station, Parnassus, North Canterbury, farming sheep, beef and deer.

Foundation Chair Ben Todhunter says he’s looking forward to a great finals night on November 16. . . 

When it comes time to hang up the gumboots:

With the average age of New Zealand farmers pushing 60, and land values on a steady increase, it’s no surprise succession planning is currently top-of-mind for the agricultural industry.

In fact, leading commentators see private farm succession as the single biggest challenge for the industry to overcome during the next decade.

Dairy Women’s Network and its partners ASB and Crowe Horwath are coming together to offer support to farmers around this daunting and extremely personal, but important issue, over the next few months.

The partners will be delivering free succession planning workshops across the country, over the next six months. . . 

Timber industry upbeat despite challenges:

“Challenges facing the NZ timber industry are real and significant but the industry is generally in a good demand cycle and sentiment is positive” says New Zealand Timber Industry Federation (NZTIF) president, John McVicar.

“Domestic demand for timber is very strong at the moment” he said.

“However the upside was tempered with a number of very real challenges facing the industry.” . . 

Commission releases draft report on Fonterra’s 2016/17 Milk Price Manual:

The Commerce Commission today released its draft report on its annual statutory review of Fonterra’s Milk Price Manual for the 2016/17 dairy season. The Commission’s draft finding is that the 2016/17 Manual is largely consistent with the purpose of the milk price monitoring regime under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 (the Act).

Deputy Chair Sue Begg noted that most of the Manual remains unchanged.

“The most significant amendment introduced this year is the inclusion of Fonterra’s sales outside the GlobalDairyTrade auction platform for whole milk powder, skim milk powder and butter milk powder. This shift could result in an increase in the milk price for the 2016/17 season of five cents per kilogram of milk solids,” Ms Begg said. . . 

Fonterra Receives Awards for Tanker Safety:

Fonterra’s GM Transport and Logistics Barry McColl has been named Road Risk Manager of the Year at the Australasian Fleet Safety Awards.

The award recognises his role in maintaining the safety of more than 1,600 drivers in 500 tankers travelling more than 90 million kilometres a year.

Fonterra Director New Zealand Manufacturing Mark Leslie said the award is a great tribute to the outstanding work of Mr McColl and his team. . . 

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Rural round-up

September 16, 2015

Deal will change face of industry – Dene Mackenzie:

Silver Fern Farms aims to be debt free with money in the bank by this time next year if a deal to form a 50:50 joint venture with Chinese food giant Shanghai Maling gets shareholder approval.

Silver Fern Farms chairman Rob Hewett remained optimistic yesterday the deal would receive the required 50% shareholder support and the company is offering significant sweeteners to persuade shareholders to vote yes.

The deal would allow Silver Fern Farms to become unleashed, he said.

Mr Hewett’s presentation to a media conference was peppered with phrases such as ”turbo-charged” and ”compelling”. . . 

 

Shock waves from Silver Fern Farms will now pulsate through the industry – Keith Woodford:

Five months ago I wrote that whatever happened at Silver Fern Farms, it would be like an earthquake within the meat industry. Given that Silver Fern Farms is New Zealand’s largest meat company, and with the status quo unsustainable, it could not be any other way.

The offer that has now come forward from Shanghai Maling is remarkable. This offer, once regulatory approvals are received, will change Silver Fern Farms from being large but financially very weak, to being large and financially very strong.

Apart from mid-season working capital, Silver Fern Farms will be debt free and with cash in their war chest to ‘take it’ to their competitors. . . 

Alliance reaches out to Silver Fern suppliers – Dene Mackenzie:

Invercargill meat processor Alliance Group wasted no time yesterday in trying to woo disgruntled Silver Fern Farm suppliers after Silver Fern announced a joint venture with a Chinese company.

Alliance chairman Murray Taggart said it was important for New Zealand farmers to retain ownership of their industry and the best way to achieve that would be to supply Alliance as the only remaining major co-operative.

Alliance also muddied the water somewhat by saying it submitted a bid for Silver Fern before Silver Fern’s capital-raising process got under way as part of ongoing discussions with the Dunedin group. . . 

Beef and Lamb expects farm profits to rise – Dene Mackenzie:

New Zealand ”average” sheep and beef farmers are in for a profit lift and Beef and Lamb chief economist Andrew Burtt calls it positive news at a time when the economy would benefit from increased farm sector spending.

Beef and Lamb predicted the average sheep and beef farm would see its profit before tax lift to $109,000 this season – 9.6% more than last season but 3.1% below the five year average. . . 

Sheep meat marketing needs focus on premium – Simon Hartley:

Softening demand for sheepmeat in China and Europe should be prompting New Zealand to prioritise getting premium chilled lamb cuts in China, and to also look further afield to new Middle Eastern markets.

Softer overseas demand for New Zealand sheepmeat, particularly from China, had curtailed New Zealand sheepmeat producers’ returns in recent months, Rabobank animal protein analyst, Matthew Costello said in his recent report on the New Zealand sheepmeat industry.

While China’s imports had ”exploded on to the New Zealand sheepmeat export scene” in 2013, to become New Zealand’s largest sheepmeat trading partner, its own production had since grown to about eight times that of New Zealand. . . 

Large trade blocs good for NZ exports:

New Zealand’s refreshed priorities for international trade have been welcomed by ExportNZ.

The Government’s Business Growth Agenda on trade has been updated, with a focus on completing the Trans Pacific Partnership, achieving a free trade agreement with the European Union, and engaging more with emerging economies in Latin and South America.

ExportNZ Executive Director Catherine Beard said exporters welcomed the continued emphasis on TPP. . .

Swede test a first for NZ – Hamish Maclean:

The plight of Southern farmers last year has led to a first for New Zealand.

When 200 dairy cows died in Southland and South Otago and many more became ill, the cause – a naturally occurring compound in winter feed, swedes in particular, – could not be tested at any New Zealand commercial laboratories.

Now, commercial glucosinolate testing of plants is available in New Zealand, and that is good news for the dairy industry, Dairy NZ says. . . 

Farm prices hold up; MyFarm eyeing dairy opportunities – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Farm prices are holding up well on a drop in volume over the winter months, according to the latest Real Estate Institute of New Zealand rural farm sales data.

There were only three dairy farm sales recorded in the past month and the median sales price per hectare for dairy farms for the three months ended August fell to $26,906, compared to $35,304 for the three months ended July and $43,125 for the three months ended August 2014.

But the REINZ Dairy Farm Price Index, which adjusts for differences in farm size and location, rose by 17.3 percent in the three months to August, compared to the three months to July. . . 

Tests before tightening help protect farm fertility:

Soil tests should be the first step for farmers trying to managing budgets while maintaining pasture productivity.

Ballance Science Extension Manager, Ian Tarbotton, says keeping soils fertile is good insurance with pasture an essential feed source, but gut instinct or past experience won’t lead to good decisions on what to spend or save.

“Soil tests will show you what you have to work with and they are the best guide to decisions around a fertiliser budget. The last thing farmers want to do is to compromise future productivity, so understanding what nutrients are available now is the best basis for decisions on fertiliser budgets.” . . 


Rural round-up

May 5, 2014

Luxury lifestyle pays milksolids dividend – Heather Chalmers:

The middle of the Mid-Canterbury plains is an unlikely place to find two massive barns housing milking cows.

Unlike New Zealand’s typical outdoors pastoral grazing system, the 950 cows from Pannetts Dairies’ herd at Mitcham, near Rakaia, spend most of their milking season inside the purpose-built barns.

While cows are free to wander out to paddocks if they wish, it is no wonder they prefer the indoors life, where their every need is catered for. As well as having a nutritionally complete feed available at all times, cows can rest on one of the 940 individual beds lined with rubber mats and make use of an automated back scratcher resembling a carwash brush. Using the barn system, cows will be milked and calve year round, rather than the more typical spring-calving seasonal production. . .

Living at the mercy of milk prices – Lyn Webster:

Being a non-shareholding supplier, my only vested interest in Fonterra is my cows and machinery.

In the perfect world I should be raking in enough cash to pay my lease, increase production and start buying my own shares.

But at the rate I’m going with drought and drying off early and doing eff-all production, it seems like a bad joke and I continue to rely on the farm owners’ shareholding to supply milk.

I am in a strange position as most dairy farmers own both cows and company shares, but I am also not alone because I bet there are many sharemilkers out there whose contracts changed after TAF and they are receiving milk price only and no dividend. . .

 Truffle season ready to delight – Ashley Walmsley:

THEY probably aren’t going to fill the winter fruit bowl of most kitchens but Australian black truffles are now in season.

One truffle expert is doing her best to educate Australians on exactly what to do with the highly prized delicacy.

Sara Hinchey of Melbourne’s Truffle Hound said even those without royal (French or Italian) blood can revel in the rich yield of black truffles from the colder regions of the nation.

Ms Hinchey’s expertise has led her to team up with several leading Melbourne restaurateurs in a series of special dinners and workshops to showcase a range of ways to prepare and consume this extraordinary and little understood subterranean mushroom. . .

An affinity for the rural sector – Sally Rae:

When David Paterson started work as a rural valuer more than 30 years ago, things were very different.

A day could be spent walking over a farm using rudimentary equipment, as there was no such thing as digital cameras or GPS units.

”When I started in 1981, you’d sit on top of a hill and look down and try and draw on the map where a gully was. Nowadays, of course, technology really has taken control,” Mr Paterson, the Dunedin-based national manager for Rural Value, said. . .

Interest in 9 dairy farms ‘positive‘ – Simon Hartley:

The likely multimillion-dollar sale of nine Southland farms owned by debt-ridden state-owned enterprise Solid Energy appear set to be concluded.

In what was considered one of the largest multi-farm offerings in the country, tenders closed a month ago on the more than 2000ha of the combined nine farms, which covered millions of tonnes of low-grade lignite coal.

PGG Wrightson real estate general manager Peter Newbold had been confident of interest in the farms, given recent demand for dairy land had exceeded supply. . . .

Budget 2014: New funding for rural and Māori housing:

The Government has announced new funding of $16 million over four years to support the repair and rebuild of rural housing, the improvement of housing on the Chatham Islands and the development of Māori social housing providers.

“New Zealanders living in remote rural areas face a number of unique and often difficult challenges, including the cost and availability of decent housing,” Associate Housing Minister Tariana Turia says.

“That is why the Government has allocated funding to improve housing in rural New Zealand, including the Chatham Islands. Compared to the rest of the population, significantly more Māori are experiencing housing deprivation and are more likely to be state tenants or renters than home owners.

“Iwi are incorporating housing into their long-term planning and the Government currently has accords with at least five iwi. Budget 2014 will take major steps to help iwi and the Crown achieve these housing aspirations. . . .


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