Rural round-up

22/01/2021

Dollar causes fall in lamb prices – Peter Burke:

A report by the ANZ bank paints a somewhat sombre picture for sheepmeat in the coming year and mirrors a similar prediction in MPI’s Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report (SOPI) published in December.

ANZ says, overall, global demand for lamb products is relatively subdued and as a result farmgate prices for lamb and beef are expected to soften further as the country heads into the peak processing months.

It says while international prices for NZ lamb and beef seem to have stabilised after a fall, the strong NZ dollar is taking the edge off farmgate prices. Lambs destined for slaughter in the North Island are fetching $6.50/kg CW and $6.40/kg CW in the South Island, but the report expects these to fall to around $6.00/kg CW by February. . . 

Playing to our strengths in drought: are we missing Lucerne, the low hanging fruit – Harry Mills & Peter Kerr:

Since the dawn of farming, the rain has signalled renewal and hope while drought has signalled disaster and despair.

When Lincoln University-based plant scientist Derrick Moot returned from studying in the UK in 1996, he was convinced climate change was already impacting New Zealand’s drylands. The east coast of New Zealand, the home of many sheep farms was getting noticeably drier. Drought was becoming more prevalent. The number of hot summer days exceeding 30C was increasing. When summer air temperatures reach 30C, the dry soil temperature rises to 50C. Ryegrass pastures shrivel up and die in 50C heat.

Derrick Moot’s advice to drought-stricken sheep farmers was simple and low cost. Replace your ryegrass with lucerne and graze it in spring. . . 

Viruses can support sustainable food production – Richard Rennie:

2020 proved to be the year where most of the world learnt more than ever anticipated about viruses. Plant & Food Research lead scientist Dr Robin MacDiarmid views this increase in understanding as a silver lining in the covid cloud. But her research is also finding another silver lining in viruses, learning where they can serve good for more sustainable food production. She spoke to Richard Rennie.

A single slice from any flora or fauna sample analysed in a lab may contain hundreds if not thousands of viruses and bacteria, but the number actually known, categorised and understood by scientists may well pale against the total there.

For Dr Robin MacDiarmid, identifying and categorising the viruses represents barely half the job at hand. In recent decades genomic sequencing has made that task simpler, quicker and more affordable for researchers. 

“But once you have discovered and categorised a virus, you are really only at the ‘so what?’ stage. The big questions come after that, in terms of what is its cell biology, and what is the ecosystem it functions in?” MacDiarmid said. . . 

The rise and rise of the merino shoe – Michael Andrew:

Varieties of merino wool footwear are emerging faster than Netflix series about British aristocracy. Michael Andrew takes a look at the rise of the shoe that almost everyone – including his 95-year-old grandma – is wearing.

Some might say it all started with Allbirds. After all, to the average consumer, it was the New Zealand-American company founded by former all white Tim Brown in 2014 that successfully popularised the versatile, comfortable and, lets face it, kind of goofy merino wool shoe that is now synonymous with corporate sustainability and Silicon Valley.

But when we cast our minds – and google searches – back to the early 2010s, we see that sustainable shoe initiatives were happening long before Allbirds came along and dominated the market. . . 

Game Animal Council working to improve new rules for flare arms users:

The Game Animal Council (GAC) is applying its expertise in the use of firearms for hunting to work alongside Police, other agencies and stakeholder groups to improve the compliance provisions for hunters and other firearms users.

The GAC has been a part of the Firearms Community Advisory Forum (FCAF) since 2018 and along with other hunting sector stakeholders successfully advocated for a number of practical changes to the Arms Legislation Act.

“While we continue to have concerns over the fairness and practicality of some aspects of the legislation we are working with Police and other groups seeking to develop practical rules and guidance going forward,” says Game Animal Council General Manager Tim Gale. “A major part of this work is making sure Police fully understand the impact of the new rules from a user’s point of view and apply them fairly.”

Lockdown games teach children about farm safety :

Educational games centred on farm safety have been developed for children studying at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The materials, which seek to raise awareness of the key dangers on farms, include interactive videos and colouring sheets.

Children can use the videos to identify animal emotions and understand the dangers relating to livestock and the rules to follow when coming into contact with them.

They have been created by SAC Consulting and 360 Degree Imagery company Exhibit Scotland for the Farm Advisory Service (FAS). . . 


Rural round-up

16/06/2019

Industry shifts from volume to value – Sally Rae:

A long-term “erosion of confidence” in the primary sector needs to be reversed, KPMG global head of agribusiness Ian Proudfoot says.

The 2019 KPMG Agribusiness Agenda was launched this week at National Fieldays at Mystery Creek, the 10th year it has been published.

In his introduction to the report, Mr Proudfoot said confidence was low despite the progress the industry had made over the last year.

Efforts to encourage farmers and growers to celebrate their role as food producers had not fallen on deaf ears but the positive messages had, on occasion, been “drowned out by a chorus of criticism”, most of which had been unbalanced, he said.

“If you have been told for years that you are the past, that you are bad for the environment, that you underpay your labour, even if you know these claims to be inherently wrong, many end up believing them. It is this long-term erosion of confidence that needs to be reversed.” . . 

Massey finds a new model for baby beef – Richard Rennie:

Twin drivers of environmental and welfare pressure on farmers when dealing with bobby calves prompted Massey University researchers to explore options that will also deliver an economic return to farmers.

Two years into the New Generation Beef project, team leader Dr Nicola Schreurs said initial results indicate taking bobby calves with Jersey genetics and rearing them to eight, 10 or 12 months for processing delivers a product with market potential.

“We are also being careful to distinguish New Generation beef from veal, which, technically, under European Union definitions, it is. But veal brings its own often negative connotations we would rather avoid.” . . 

Changes are needed at Landcorp – Alan Emmerson:

I’ve just read the Landcorp, Pamu as they like to be known, annual report. In a word, it is nauseating.

They start by telling us their vision is to be the premium supplier of meat, milk and fibre for niche markets. 

“We pursue this vision with strategies based on Pamu’s six capitals – strategies for excellence in farming and adding value for products, investors, people and the environment.”

It is an 82-page, heady tome telling us, among other things, they’re supplying markets in Australia, China, Europe North America and more.

The acting chairman and chief executive told us “Pamu enters its fifth year of delivering on our strategy of operational excellence in creating value beyond the farm gate with real momentum.”

They’re into farm wellbeing, gender equity, animal welfare, environmental assessments farm by farm, (who isn’t) and relationships with tangata whenua.

They’ve surveyed stakeholders including our old mates at Greenpeace. What they could add they didn’t say. . . 

NZ primary industry exports seen rising 7.1% this year – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – The government expects primary industry export revenue will rise 7.1 percent to $45.7 billion in the June year, but predicts growth will be flatter in the future.

The lift marks the “second straight year of substantial export growth,” said Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor when he presented the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Situation and Outlook report for June 2019 at Fieldays. Export revenue was $42.7 billion in the prior year, up 11.7 percent. . .

 

The man who helped feed the world – Tim Harford:

In the early 1900s, newlyweds Cathy and Cappy Jones left Connecticut in the US to start a new life as farmers in north-west Mexico’s Yaqui Valley, a little-known dry and dusty place, a few hundred kilometres south of the Arizona border.

When Cappy died in 1931, Cathy decided to stay on. By then she had a new neighbour: the Yaqui Valley Experiment Station, a grand agricultural research centre with impressive stone pillars, and cleverly designed irrigation canals.

For a while, the centre raised cattle, sheep and pigs, and grew oranges, figs and grapefruit.

But by 1945, the fields were overgrown, the fences fallen and the windows shattered. The station was infested with rats. . .  

Strawberry growers asked to vote on a levy proposal:

Strawberry Growers New Zealand Board is asking growers to vote on a proposal to apply for a levy on strawberries, with voting papers going out today.

Following extensive consultation with growers and other stakeholders, Strawberry Growers New Zealand (SGNZ) are calling for all commercial strawberry growers to vote in a referendum to determine if there is a clear mandate from growers to apply for a commodity levy.

A levy rate of $26 per 1000 strawberry plants sold is being proposed, with support being sought to apply to the Minister for Agriculture for a Commodity Levies Order on strawberries. . . 


Rural round-up

20/06/2018

Farmers taking massive blow from disease cull to protect others – Andrew Morrison:

This time last year few of us had even heard of Mycoplasma bovis and now this disease is proving devastating to a group of cattle farmers.

We have seen the heart-wrenching scenes of farmers loading otherwise healthy cows onto trucks headed for slaughter and have listened to the descriptions from farmers who have to wake up every morning to the silence of farms devoid of livestock.

Last month, the Government with industry support made the decision to pursue a phased eradication of this production-limiting disease.

Knowing the pain it was going to cause some farmers meant that it was not a decision made lightly.  These farmers are taking a massive blow to protect the 99 per cent of farmers who don’t have Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) on their properties. We, as an industry, need to do everything we can to support these people both financially and emotionally. . . 

North Otago calves confirmed to have had M bovis -Conan Young:

A North Otago farmer who lost her farm after having to deal with a mystery illness has had it confirmed her calves that year had Mycoplasma bovis.

Susan McEwan’s story featured on RNZ’s Checkpoint and Insight programmes.

At that stage she suspected the reason she lost 600 of the 3000 animals she was raising to arthritis and pneumonia, was due to Mycoplasma bovis, but had no way to prove it. . . 

Farm exports growing – Sally Rae:

A strong export performance and farm profitability results, despite a  variety of challenges, is testament to the resilience of farmers, the Ministry for Primary Industries’ latest Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report says.

That resilience provided confidence  farmers would be able to adapt to future disruptions such as climate change, adverse events or potential trade issues.

It was also reflected in MPI’s medium-term outlook for annual export growth to range between 1.2% to 2.6% between 2019 and 2022.

Primary sector exports are forecast to exceed $46 billion by the end of the outlook period.

Production and export volumes were forecast to be relatively stable, particularly in dairy and meat and wool.  . . 

Keeping tradition alive after 50 years of Feildays – Horiana Henderson:

Kerepehi stalwart, Alex Quinn is committed to Fieldays and has the golden “50 years commemorating support” award, and a cap, to prove it.

In typical fashion, he was to be found amongst the agricultural equipment ready with a big smile and friendly conversation. He is the owner of Quinn Engineering and attended the first Fieldays with his father Eddie Quinn.

In the 1960s, Eddie created a tractor attachment for handling hay called the Baleboy and brought it to market at Fieldays in 1970. .  .

NZ missing a trick when it comes to selling our food overseas – Heather Chalmers:

The Government needs to invest in a national food brand in the same way it spends $100 million each year to promote New Zealand as a tourist destination, says an agrifood marketing expert.

Synlait’s infant formula sold in the United States was “unashamedly branded” as coming from New Zealand grass-fed dairy cows, but most New Zealand products were unbranded, said Lincoln University agribusiness management senior lecturer Nic Lees.

This was despite research that showed most western consumers view New Zealand food as the next best thing to their own products.

“This research was done by the University of Florida. This is an example of how little market research we do as a country into understanding perceptions of our food in different countries.” . . 

Stay ahead of the game deer farmers urged – Alexia Johnston:

Deer farmers are being urged to ”stay ahead of the game”.

Those words of advice were the key theme at this year’s Deer Industry New Zealand (Dinz) annual conference, recently hosted in Timaru.

Dinz CEO Dan Coup said the three-day event, which included a field trip to Mesopotamia Station, was a success, helped by the positive attitude by those in attendance. . .

Getting calves off to a great start – Peter Burke:

Dairy farmers and calf rearers will in a few months be flat-out dealing with new life on farms. AgResearch scientist Dr Sue McCoard and colleagues are working on adding valuable science and data to this important task.

Sue McCoard says she and her fellow researchers, in partnership with the industry, are researching different feeds and feeding management options and their impact on whole-of-life performance. .  .

 


Rural round-up

10/06/2013

Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries:

The primary industries are continuing to perform well in the face of significant challenges this year, according to the Ministry for Primary Industries, and the medium-term outlook is very positive.

The Ministry has released the annual Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report, which includes production, trade and pricing statistics for the current season and for three or four years out.

“It’s been a season of two halves for the land-based industries, with many areas impacted by drought in the second half,” says Jarred Mair, Sector Policy director.

“The impacts of the severe drought continue and could continue for several seasons, for example many sheep and beef farms need to build breeding stock numbers back up.” . . .

Vintage year for Zespri Kiwifruit:

The 2013 New Zealand kiwifruit season has already set records for the best-tasting Zespri Kiwifruit ever.

With harvest nearly completed, on-orchard sampling has confirmed what Zespri consumers have been saying – that this year is a vintage taste year for Zespri Kiwifruit.

Carol Ward, Zespri General Manager Marketing, says every block of every Zespri-supplying orchard is tested for levels of dry matter before harvest, with dry matter corresponding to sweetness in ripe fruit. . . .

Synlait Milk Attracts Leading Infant Nutrition Quality Executive:

Michael Stein, a former Director of Quality for one the world’s leading companies in paediatric nutrition will join Synlait Milk as General Manager Quality later this month.

Synlait Milk Chief Executive Officer John Penno says he is delighted that a person of Michael’s experience and reputation will join the Company further reinforcing its reputation as a trusted supplier of ingredient and infant nutritional products.

“The integrity of our products is of paramount importance to us and our customers. It is a task that is constantly evolving to meet customer and regulatory requirements. That has encouraged our decision to seek a high calibre General Manager Quality with a depth of experience in international markets.” . . .

Manuka Health seeks to strengthen links with Japan:

Manuka Health was one of a select group of New Zealand functional food companies to be invited by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to a workshop in Japan to introduce leading-edge research to Japanese food and beverage companies.

The “New Zealand Innovation to Industry Workshop”, was held at the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology recently where Manuka Health was invited to speak on the topic of generating intellectual property for natural products and functional foods.

The workshop was the first of its kind organised by MBIE in Japan to help New Zealand’s research-based, innovation to form research and commercial partnerships with another country. . .

Yealands Estate recognised for leadership in sustainability at Green Ribbon Awards

Yealands Estate has won the ‘Large business leadership’ award at the Ministry for the Environment Green Ribbon Awards, at an awards ceremony at the Parliament Buildings, Wellington. The winery was one of 11 winners and the only wine producer to receive an award.

Environment Minister Amy Adams presented the award for the ‘Large business leadership’ category, which acknowledges businesses with over 100 employees who demonstrate an on-going commitment to environmental best practices. . .

Decanter Magazine selects Yealands Estate as best New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc:

Prestigious UK publication Decanter Magazine has recognised Yealands Estate Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2011 as “Outstanding” in a review of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Of the 91 wines tasted, Yealands Estate Reserve was the only wine to receive the top accolade, with an impressive score of 95 out of 100.

The article praises the overall quality of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with the Yealands Estate Reserve Sauvignon Blanc coming out on top. The wines were tasted and rated by three experts: Melanie Brown, Roger Jones and Peter McCombie MW. Peter McCombie MW commented ‘my highest scores were all Marlborough in origin, and half of those were from the cooler Awatere sub-zone. The Awatere style is more tomato stalk, rather than overtly tropical wines from the much more planted Wairau Valley, and the best have a degree of restraint that appeals to me.’ . . .

It’s not a fantasy: Seattle to build nation’s first food forest:

Forget meadows. The city’s new park will be filled with edible plants, and everything from pears to herbs will be free for the taking.

Seattle’s vision of an urban food oasis is going forward. A seven-acre plot of land in the city’s Beacon Hill neighborhood will be planted with hundreds of different kinds of edibles: walnut and chestnut trees; blueberry and raspberry bushes; fruit trees, including apples and pears; exotics like pineapple, yuzu citrus, guava, persimmons, honeyberries, and lingonberries; herbs; and more. All will be available for public plucking to anyone who wanders into the city’s first food forest. . .


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