Rural round-up

July 7, 2020

Govt accused of ‘greenwashing’ over failure to use Kiwi wool in public buildings – James Fyfe:

Pressure in the farming sector is growing for New Zealand wool products to be used in public-funded buildings and KiwiBuild homes.

Last week Otago farmer Amy Blaikie launched a petition demanding action on the issue, with thousands of people already adding their signatures. 

Wool prices are currently at a record low, with the costs of shearing the wool being higher than what farmers earn by selling it. Blaikie says the situation is “disheartening”.

“If nothing is done to help, inspire or spur the wool industry then the future looks bleak,” Blaikie told Newshub. . . 

Farming in a fishbowl – Sonita Chandar:

Just a 10-minute drive from Auckland’s bustling Queen Street lies a farm where our future farmers are being taught. Sonita Chandar reports.

It’s not easy being a farmer at the best of times but when you are surrounded by townies who just have to look over their back fences to see what you’re up to it is even more important to get it right.

Peter Brice is the farm manager at the ASB Mt Albert Grammar School (MAGS) Farm in the middle of Auckland city. 

Its 8.1 hectares milks fewer than 10 cows, has seven chickens, 21 Suffolk ewes, a Gold kiwifruit orchard and a native tree nursery. . . 

Small dams floated after scrapped Ruataniwha project – Anusha Bradley:

Potential locations for several small dams are being investigated by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.

The decision was made by the council’s environment committee today and was being hailed as an important step in securing a long-term supply of fresh water for the drought-prone region.

“Water security is critical to the social, economic and environmental future of the region,” Regional Council Chair Rex Graham said.

“We want to take the ambitious approach and accelerate this work to future proof our water supply in Heretaunga. This will allow for cities and businesses to grow, despite the challenges of climate change,” he said. . . 

New recruits learn to drive tractors after losing jobs in pandemic– John McKenzie:

Four very large wheels, a ton of horsepower and a new career on the farm.

Run at Telford in South Otago, 120 people have signed up for the six-week course.

Most of them recently lost their jobs as airline pilots, jet boat operators, vets, pharmacists and tour guides among others. . .

Finishing line in sight for Extension 350 farmers:

Northland Inc’s award-winning Extension 350 celebrated a significant milestone this week as the project’s first three clusters approached the completion of their three-year journey of change, development, and opportunity.

Farmer-led and farmer-focused, Extension 350 (E350) kicked off in 2016 with the intention of getting a total of 350 farmers involved across Northland over a five-year programme.

The initiative aims to assist farmers in achieving their goals and objectives – profitability, environmental sustainability and wellbeing – through rigorous analysis and benchmarking, the sharing of information with their peers, and regular input from mentors, consultants and the E350 project team.

“The finishing line is now in sight for those first 15 farms and their journeys are almost done,” said Luke Beehre, Project Lead for E350. “The programme is all about providing a network for farmers, a place to share their stories and experiences, and to enable positive things to happen in their businesses and their home lives. . . 

 

Legalising marijuana- environmental negatives?:

There are many groups within NZ including the Green Party that are calling for the legalisation of marijuana for personal/medicinal use and my question for them is: – How can they reconcile that stand with the negative environmental effects from cannabis cultivation?

No matter where you sit on its legalization, growing marijuana affects our environment and that can be in a negative way.

Growing marijuana indoors requires copious electricity through the use of high-intensity lamps, air conditioners, dehumidifiers and much more. In order to grow it outside, streams become sponges, being sucked dry as seen in the outdoor grow-ops in California. . . 


Rural round-up

February 5, 2020

It’s tinder dry – Sonita Chandar:

As temperatures soar and paddocks start to frizzle farmers in Northland are destocking and buying in feed while firefighters are nervously standing by waiting for the sirens to go.

“You could say we are pretty much on edge and on constant standby,” Northland deputy principal fire officer Wayne Martin says.

“Whenever we are called to an event we pretty much throw everything we have got at it to make sure we don’t end up with an Australia-type incident, especially if we have to travel a fair distance to get there. We will send the helicopter out as well to reduce the risk of it spreading and to contain the loss of acreage.” . . 

Hard yards on family farm pays off – Sudesh Kissun:

Harvesting 15 tonnes of cabbage in hailstorms and hand weeding paddocks under a scorching sun made a perfect training ground for Austin Singh Purewal.

The 18-year-old, who won the NZ Young Vegetable Grower of the Year award two months ago, says the hard work on the family farm is paying off.

Purewal, the youngest-ever to win the title, told Hort News that although growing up on the family farm wasn’t easy, he enjoyed the challenges. . . 

LIC delivers steady first half – Hugh Stringleman:

LIC has delivered a steady interim result in line with expectations during the 2020 financial year, including a small rise in revenue and a small drop in first-half earnings.

Revenue in the six months to November 30 was $163 million, up 1.4% from the corresponding period last year.

Earnings before interest and tax were $43.1m, down 6.5% and net profit after tax was $30.3m, down 7.6%.

The artificial breeding and farmer information company said earnings and profit were down because of the timing of expenses. . . 

Two cents’ worth – beetle mania – Nikki Mandow:

One man’s decades-long fight to deal with NZ’s farm effluent problems by bringing dung beetles into the country

As a child, scientist Dr Shaun Forgie was obsessed with snakes, so it was unfortunate he grew up in one of the few countries in the world that don’t have any. Instead he grubbed about in Ruakaka looking for other creepy crawlies, then completed a science degree specialising in insects.

He had planned a masters on parasitic wasps and their impact on fly strike in sheep. As one does. But one day in the lab, Forgie had a Road to Damascus moment that was to change his life, but could potentially have a far greater influence – producing a major change in New Zealand’s farming ecosystems.  . .

No sausages or salami?! The country-of-origin regulations let pork eaters down – Hilary Pearson:

Finally, New Zealand is getting country-of-origin food labelling. But the recently released draft regulations are a missed opportunity to provide consumers with clarity around where their food comes from and how it’s produced, writes Hilary Pearson of Freedom Farms.

It seems a bit laborious to rehash the already storied history of the Consumers’ Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Act. At this point it feels like it’s been talked about for eleventy-seven gazillion years. The bill was passed by parliament at the end of November 2018 and now, 12 months later, draft regulations have been released so we know what it’s going to look like in practice. And it’s clear it’s not as robust as pork eaters need it to be. 

In many ways we’ve timed our run poorly in terms of getting this legislation across the line. In 2018, when the bill was going through the select committee stage, some people delighted in telling me that no one really cared that much about how their food is produced, so country of origin wasn’t a big deal.

We’re now 18 months down the road from the select committee consultation and suddenly one in three New Zealanders are reportedly thinking about reducing their meat consumption because of the environmental impact of how it is produced. . . 

Rural golf course where sheep graze is teed-up for sale:

A quirky provincial golf course where sheep graze the fairways to keep the grass under control has been placed on the market for sale.

The Tumahu Golf Club near Okato in Western Taranaki is an 9-hole course where players have been driving down the fairways and putting on the greens for some 70 years. As a classic Kiwi ‘rural’ course, sheep graze the fairways, with knee-high electric wire fencing keeping stock off the putting greens.

However, with many Tumahu Golf Club members now aged in their 60s and 70s, the steady decline in core membership has seen the club’s fortunes wane. Big swinging Tumahu Golf Club members played their last club day just before Christmas. The course remained open until just after the start of the new year to allow for holiday golfers to get a final round in. The course has now officially closed down. . . 


Rural round-up

November 4, 2019

$9 billion shock – Neal Wallace and Annette Scott:

Claims the Government’s essential freshwater proposals could cost the livestock industry over $9 billion a year are selective, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says.

That is the estimated cost of compliance and lower production of meeting proposed freshwater reforms, submissions from Beef + Lamb and DairyNZ say.

More than 12,000 submissions were made by last week’s deadline.

The reforms have been labelled by some farming bodies as unbalanced, unnecessarily harsh and unsustainable. . .

M bovis’ eradication initiatives vindicated – Sally Rae:

An independent Technical Advisory Group (TAG) believes achieving eradication of Mycoplasma bovis is still feasible.

The group’s latest report was released yesterday by the Ministry for Primary Industries in which it supported the changes the M. bovis programme had made over the past six months.

Given available data, achieving biological freedom from M. bovis was feasible provided the number of undetected infected herds was not large, infection had not established and spread within the non-dairy sector, and that the rate of transmission to new herds was reduced via continued shortening in the intervals from infection to application of movement controls, it said. . .

Faith, family and farming– Sonita Chandar:

Southland farmers are community and spiritual leaders in the Islamic community. They put their faith above everything and answered the call to help  after the Christchurch mosque shootings. They talk to Sonita Chandar about their experiences and farming.

On Friday March 15 Invercargill farmer and imam of the world’s southernmost mosque, Reza Abdul-Jabbar, was delivering his weekly sermon when a worshipper’s phone rang.

Until then it had been super quiet, as it usually is during the service.

He reminded the man it was a time for silence, not to take the call and continued. 

But other phones began ringing. . .

Fonterra’s dream run in India – Pam Tipa:

Fonterra three months ago launched its first consumer brand in India under the Fonterra Future Dairy joint venture.

The brand Dreamery has had a “fantastic reception”, says Judith Swales, chief operating officer, global consumer and foodservice.

Fonterra is working with joint venture partner Future Group which is present in 26 of 31 Indian states with over 2000 modern trade outlets and 5000 public distribution outlets. . .

Experts have their say on whether cherries justify their popularity – Mark Price:

Faced with all manner of economic worries — from Trump to freshwater policies — where might investors put their hard-won savings in the hope of a better than deposit rate return? Might cherries — the horticultural darling of the moment in Central Otago — be the answer? Mark Price sought out two opinions.

Ross and Sharon Kirk are cherry industry consultants trading as Hortinvest Ltd. They have the biggest netted orchard under management in Central Otago (close to 40ha), and are in the process of planting two 80ha, ‘‘fully-netted’’ development

Suitability for Central Otago

Q: What are the basic requirements for cherries to thrive?
A: Low rainfall over harvest, good winter chilling, reasonable soils (nutrient), adequate water, reasonable shelter from wind, and netting (to keep out birds).

Q: Which requirements does Central Otago meet?
A: All of the above, although the bird netting is expensive. . . .

Cute as buttons :

North Canterbury farmers Melissa and Hayden Cowan have a small flock of rare black-nosed Swiss Valais sheep.

Often referred to as the “cutest sheep in the world” this distinctive breed with black face and ears, curly forelocks and spotted knees and hocks originate in the mountains of the Valais area of Switzerland.

They imported their first embryos from the UK in 2018 and from the 32 embryos 18 live lambs were born so there’s no guarantee they’ll work. The embryos cost $2000 a pop so it’s a quite an investment. .


Rural round-up

May 6, 2019

Gas compromise won’t be enough – Neal Wallace:

It appears the Government has compromised in the treatment of biological and long-lived greenhouse gases but a farming leader warns it is too early to break out the champagne.

Pressure from coalition partners is said to have forced Climate Change Minister James Shaw to agree to separate greenhouse gas reduction targets but Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard says the new levels appear to ignore the views of scientists and studies.

Those studies claim that because methane is short lived in the atmosphere, cutting emissions rather than eliminating it will reduce global warming.

Hoggard declined to release the targets he has heard saying they are not official but says it appears the Government has fallen well short of the advice. . . 

Robots take charge – Sonita Chandar:

It is 2am and though it is pitch-black a small mob of cows is strolling toward the cowshed – it is their third visit in one day.

They are the cows that somehow just know a new is paddock available and the only way to get there is through the shed. 

They are what Auckland farmer Brian Yates refers to as hoons.

“Some girls hoon around the three-way grazing system like three-year-olds on red fizzy, arriving at each new break as it becomes available and getting up to three milkings per day. . . 

Joint opportunity – Sheryl Brown:

Cam and Jess Lea have earned the respect of their neighbours to the point that four farming couples have backed them financially into their first sharemilking position after their second year in the industry. Sheryl Brown reports. 

Four Opotiki neighbouring couples have backed Cam and Jess Lea into their first sharemilking business, holding 16% equity share apiece. Andrew and Kelly Clarke, Dave and Nat Wilson, Rob and Moira Anstis, and Colin and Maria Eggleton are all born and bred in Opotiki and knew a good investment when they saw one.

Cam, 28, and Jess, 27, sold their house, their nice vehicle and their boat to put $75,000 into the equity partnership and borrowed the rest to buy the Jersey herd that was already on the farm. . . 

Collins family’s long history of dairying – Julia Evans:

The Collins family celebrated 150 years of farming in Springston on Saturday. Julia Evans speaks to Murray Collins about his family who have lived and worked the land and their roots in the newspaper industry.

There’s Murray and Judy, their daughter Jenny and grandchildren Elsie, Henry and Leila.

Those are the three generations of the Collins family currently living on Springston’s Pendah Farm, which has celebrated 150 years of operation.

But before them there was William, Walter, Leslie and Jack Collins.

William was a typographer who sailed to New Zealand from the United Kingdom in 1850, after working for the London Morning Post.

Though he did not settle in Canterbury. . . 

Government should fund fire research:

The National Party is calling on the Government to fund potentially lifesaving research into preventing rural fires, National’s Research, Science and Innovation spokesperson Parmjeet Parmar says.

“Crown Research Institute Scion, which specialises in forestry science, is involved in creating a new fire spread model and investigating new extreme fire prevention methods.

This includes developing new response technologies to prevent and suppress extreme fires,” Dr Parmar says.

“I’m calling on the Government to give Scion the security it needs of $3 million a year so it can continue research and come up with new models to suppress wildfires. This research has previously come from contestable funds but there is no security with that funding. . . 

Cows and climate change: A closer look – Andre Mayer:

The extent to which meat production contributes to climate change is hotly contested. We highlighted some of the concernsin our last issue, but heard from some readers who felt it didn’t convey the full picture.

Earlier this year, when U.S. congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez first started promoting the Green New Deal — the Democratic proposal to mobilize government to address climate change and income inequality — she made comments about the significant impact of “cow farts” on carbon emissions.

That concerned Frank Mitloehner, an esteemed animal science professor at the University of California, Davis, who tweeted at AOC, telling the rookie lawmaker that “meat/milk” was only responsible for four per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. . . 


Rural round-up

April 21, 2019

Meat bonanza – Alan Williams:

Hang on for the ride, New Zealand – the African swine fever disaster breaking down pork supply in China is creating a huge opening for sheep meat and beef producers, special agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen says.

The Chinese need for protein will push up both demand and thus prices there and for other customers. 

Pork is easily the number one meat protein in China and research indicating the swine fever impact could create an 8.2 million tonnes gap in total protein supply there this year.  . .

MPI raises restrictions on farms to stop spread of Mycoplasma bovis – Gerard Hutching:

Farmers will need to brace themselves for a surge in the number of properties that cannot move stock off their farms as officials grapple with controlling the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

The Ministry for Primary Industries said 300 farmers who had high risk animals move on to their properties would be contacted, of whom 250 would have notices of direction placed on them. . .

Exploring potential of dairy sheep, goats – Yvonne O’Hara:

The Sheep and Goat Dairy Project (SGDP) is to hold a workshop in Invercargill tomorrow to explore the potential for dairy sheep and dairy goats as an alternative income stream for farmers and others along the supply chain.

The national Provincial Growth Fund-funded project was launched in January and will continue until March 2020.

Project leader John Morgan, who is also the manager of the New Zealand Food Innovation Network (Fin) at Lincoln University, said there had been pockets of interest and activity to do with sheep and goat milk in the past. . .

Truly outstanding in their fields – Peter Burke:

The East Coast of the North Island features prominently in this year’s Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award for Sheep and Beef.

Two of the three men work on farms on the East Coast, the others in the South Island.

The three finalists were selected from entrants NZ-wide: 

Outbreak delays bee project – Yvonne O’Hara:

The Southern Beekeepers discussion group has completed the first two rounds of sampling southern beehives at sites in Mosgiel and Lake Hawea for the American Foulbrood (AFB) research project, Clean Hive.

However, a major AFB outbreak in the North Island is keeping the laboratory they are using busy with samples, so the results have been delayed.

The sampling is part of the beekeeping industry’s research project to trial three different methods to detect the disease in hives before symptoms become visible or clinical. . .

Celebrating women in agriculture – Sonita Chandar:

Words spoken during a panel discussion at the Women of Influence Forum in 2016 struck a chord with Chelsea Millar from Grass Roots Media.

The panel consisting of several high-profile women from various sectors was discussing how women don’t get enough recognition for their work, whether it be equality, pay parity or so on.

“It struck me that this was true in the agriculture sector,” Millar says. . .

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Rural round-up

December 12, 2018

Inspirational focus in driving NZ wool business honoured – Sally Rae:

Dave Maslen is a reluctant sustainability superstar.

The New Zealand Merino Co’s general manager for markets and sustainability was a finalist in the sustainability superstar category in the recent NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards.

The category, won by Waikato dairy farmer Tracy Brown, celebrated people who inspired and led others to make a difference.

Mr Maslen’s own nomination came as a surprise and he was reluctant to be singled out, saying it was “most definitely” a team effort. . . 

Leaders discuss sustainable farming – Sally Rae:

Agriculture, as a whole, needs to be brave.

That was the take-home message for North Otago dairy farmer Lyndon Strang after attending the annual DairyNZ Dairy Environment Leaders Forum in Wellington recently.

The three-day event was attended by nearly 100 dairy farming leaders who discussed sustainable farming and progressed goals for the future.

Mr Strang and his wife Jane milk 450 cows at Five Forks and run a self-contained operation, wintering all cows, rearing young stock and growing the majority of their supplements. . . 

Waimea Dam to aid eels on journey to Pacific – scientist – Tracy Neal:

The Waimea Dam will improve the health of the river downstream, and ensure the path of eels to their breeding grounds in the Pacific is not hindered, a freshwater scientist says.

The Tasman District Council recently voted to go ahead with the $105 million irrigation and urban supply scheme, despite levels of public opposition, mainly over cost.

Scientist Roger Young, from Nelson’s Cawthron Institute, has been involved in the project since its inception. . .

More farmers feel under financial pressure:

Farmer satisfaction with their banks is dropping, and more are feeling they are under financial pressure, the Federated Farmers November Banking Survey shows.

While 73.7% of the 750 farmers who responded to the Research First-conducted survey said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their bank, that was a drop of 5% since the previous survey in May.   It’s also the lowest satisfaction level recorded in any of the 10 surveys conducted since 2015.

“The results show a need for renewed efforts to improve relationships between farmers and banks,” Federated Farmers Economics and Commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says. . . 

SenseHub monitors treats – Sonita Chandar:

Consumers of Nestle products can be assured the treats they like best have been made with milk from happy, healthy cows.

As part of Nestle’s commitment on animal welfare it has partnered with Antelliq’s Allflex on a pilot programme to monitor dairy cows’ wellbeing through Allflex’s SenseHub on several Nestle farms.

The collaboration aims to provide Nestle with full visibility into the wellbeing of individual cows and the herd according to a set of key performance indicators. . . 

Group of sheep breeders running parasite resistant stock:

A group of leading sheep breeders have formed WormFEC Gold to show farmers that breeding for parasite resistant genetics will strengthen flocks and save time and money on-farm.

Growing concerns from farmers around increasing levels of drench resistance, rising farming input costs, and issues getting farm labour have prompted 10 WormFEC breeders from across New Zealand to join forces. The breeders’ group brings together more than 200 years combined experience breeding highly productive, parasite resistant rams.

Chairman Robert Peacock of Orari Gorge Station in South Canterbury said the WormFEC Gold group aims to show farmers that breeding sheep for parasite resistance is achievable and will save farmers time and money. He said breeding animals with natural resistance to parasites is part of the long-term sustainable solution for parasite management. . . 

Researchers conclude livestock have no detectable effect on climate – Amanda Radke:

Cow burps are destroying the ozone layer — we’ve all heard that one, and frankly, it’s time for the industry to ditch that myth once and for all.

As our industry zeroes in on topics of sustainability and ways we as beef producers can improve for the better, I continue to beat the same drum — cattlemen and women already do a spectacular job of managing our land and water to produce more beef using fewer resources.

Simply stated, beef production isn’t just sustainable; it’s regenerative. And despite what the naysayers claim, cattle grazing and consuming by-products of crop production play a critical role in our ecosystem. . .

 


Rural round-up

September 7, 2018

Noisy opposition to dams will leave us short of water – Andrew Curtis:

A few days after a vote to build the Waimea Community Dam was narrowly lost at a Tasman District Council meeting the response from politicians, a number of councillors and many around the country, seems to be shock.

The effects will kick in immediately as a plan change which requires Waimea River flows to be raised, drafted on the assumption the dam would go ahead, will mean water restrictions will be enforced in the district this summer.

In Auckland, both Watercare and the region’s vegetable growers take water from the Waikato River. With the region’s population booming, future conflict over water is also on the horizon. Decisions made at a local level, where a noisy opposition may be focused solely on their rates bill, have wider impacts on regions and in fact the whole country. . .

Take the credit – Sonita Chandar:

Young South Taranaki couple Owen Clegg and Hollie Wham do things a lot better than they expected. Sonita Chandar reports and how they are running their farm.

South Taranaki farmers Owen Clegg, 26, and Hollie Wham, 25, are a young couple who, despite achieving great things in the industry, give themselves little credit.

Earlier this year they won the 2018 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year title. They also won the Honda Farm Safety and Health Award, Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award and the Westpac Business Performance Award. . .

Meat farmers should expand – Neal Wallace:

One of Europe’s largest buyers of New Zealand red meat is urging farmers to expand their flocks and herds.

Alexander Eyckeler said demand is growing for quality cuts of NZ lamb and venison, the reason prices have steadily risen in the last three years.

“My clear message not only for sheep meat farmers but also venison farmers, you have incentives to build up your herds again.”

Eyckeler is one of Alliance Group’s largest lamb, mutton and venison customers, supplying retail and food service markets throughout Europe. . .

Otago merino making mark in space – Yvonne O’Hara:

Merino wool from Central Otago sheep has made it into space, taken part in military operations, fought wild fires and protected extreme endurance athletes.

Outer and undergarments using fabric made from New Zealand, and more specifically Central Otago merino wool, are manufactured and sold in 36 countries by Armadillo Merino, a UK-based company.

Company founder Andy Caughey said their merino wool garments were being used by professional risk takers, including special forces and elite police teams and by International Space Station (ISS) astronauts ”because of the multi-attribute properties of merino wool”.

”Armadillo has also supplied base garments to the Washington DC Park Police Department, which provide public security protection for President Trump and his presidential motorcade,” he said. . .

’M bovis’ hampering free meal – Margaret Phillips:

A reluctance to visit dairy farms in order to reduce the risk of spreading Mycoplasma bovis has dealt a blow to a service dishing up free meals for migrant workers.

Volunteers normally visited 10 to 20 farms each week to invite mostly migrant workers to the community meals put on in Riversdale during the busy lambing and calving season.

Organised by the Riversdale-Waikaia Presbyterian Church, the free weekly meals have in past years attracted about 80 people at the seasonal peak.

But the numbers had dropped drastically, church pastor John Gullick said . .

Ditch the almond milk: why everything you know about sustainable eating is probably wrong – Tony Naylor:

In food and drink, we all want to do the right thing. We want to shop and eat sustainably. But, sometimes, it is easier said than done. Our willingness to jump on the latest eco-trends and unquestioningly accept reassuring labelling can lead to unintended consequences. If we are serious about eating green, we need to read beyond the headlines and think rigorously about how we apply ethical advice in our own lives. By way of inspiration, here are some of the ways we get it wrong on ingredients, storage and recycling – and a few surprisingly easy solutions.

Is almond milk really the nuts?

Influenced by clean eating and agri-exposés such as Cowspiracy(whichpointed to methane emissions from cattle as crucial in global warming), many are ditching cows’ milk in favour of non-dairy alternatives, which, according to Euromonitor, now make-up 12% of global milk sales. . .


Rural round-up

August 15, 2018

Appeal decision a win for irrigators but more work needs to be done:

An appeal to Environment Canterbury’s Plan Change 5 nutrient modelling rules has been resolved with a major win achieved for irrigators, says IrrigationNZ.

A Hearings Panel on the Plan Change proposed a new requirement that would have effectively required that all older spray irrigation systems in Canterbury be replaced with new ones by 2020. It was estimated that this change would cost irrigators $300 million.

All parties to the appeal agreed that an error in law had been made when the Hearing Panel introduced this as a new requirement because no submitter had asked for this change.

INZ carried out testing on 300 irrigation systems in Ashburton and Selwyn districts over two summers recently which found that older spray irrigation systems can achieve good levels of water efficiency if regular checking and maintenance is carried out

First M bovis case confirmed near Motueka in Tasman – Sara Meij:

The first case of M. Bovis has been confirmed in the Nelson region.

Biosecurity New Zealand said on Tuesday a property near Motueka, in the Tasman district, had tested positive for the bacterial cattle disease.

Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) said the affected property was a mixed sheep and beef farm.

The farm was identified through tracing animals from known infected farms and it was now under a Restricted Place Notice, which meant it was in “quarantine lockdown”, restricting the movement of animals and other “risk goods” on and off the farm. . .

At the grassroots: farmers contribute too – John Barrow:

I recently returned a little disappointed from the Local Government New Zealand conference in Christchurch.

From a dairy farmer’s perspective I was disappointed at the lack of recognition of the cost of farming and issues we are facing – all the emphasis was on urban.

The conference theme was We are Firmly Focused on the Future: Future Proofing for a Prosperous and Vibrant NZ. . .

Draft report on review of Fonterra’s 2017/18 base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission has today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2017/18 dairy season.

The base milk price is the average price that Fonterra pays farmers for raw milk, which was set at $6.75 per kilogram of milk solids for the season just ended.

The report does not cover the forecast 2018/19 price of $7.00 that Fonterra announced in July.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation at the end of each dairy season under the milk price monitoring regime in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA). . .

Four does go into one – Sonita Chandar:

Teamwork is the secret to success for the Southland farm judged the best dairy business in the land. Sonita Chandar reports.

Despite three of the four partners living in the North Island the success of a Southland farming business can be attributed to exceptional teamwork and good clear lines of communication.

Each partner brings strengths to the table but no one is above the others. They are all equals, make decisions as a group and share in the spoils of their collective success.

MOBH Farm, an equity partnership made up of Kevin Hall, Tim Montgomerie, Jodie Heaps and Mark Turnwald, won two category awards as well as being named the supreme winner at the 2018 Dairy Business of the Year awards (DBOY). . .

Farmers rally around Cancer Society fundraiser at Feilding Hogget Fair – Paul Mitchell:

The rural community is banding together to get behind the Cancer Society, with personal connections running as deep as their pockets.

The annual Hogget Fair at the Feilding Stockyards on Wednesday is one of the biggest in New Zealand. For the second year running, farmers will donate sheep to help those who are doing it tough.

The money raised from selling the sheep will go directly to supporting Manawatū-Whanganui cancer patients. . .

Rare heifer triplets thriving on Taieri farm – Sally Rae:

Holy cow – it’s a girl. Or in the case of a heifer calving on a Taieri dairy farm last week, it was a gaggle of girls, handful of heifers.

The first-calver produced a very rare set of heifer triplets on the Miller family’s farm at Maungatua. Andrew Miller and his father Jim had never encountered triplet calves before.

Andrew was particularly amazed the Kiwi-cross calves had all survived and were now doing well in the calf shed. . .

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Rural round-up

August 9, 2018

Long-serving dairy scientist Harjinder Singh gains international recognition – George Heagney:

After 30 years of research in the dairy industry, a distinguished service award was well deserved for Harjinder​ Singh.

The Massey University distinguished professor has won a lot of awards for his work, but last month became the first New Zealander to win the American Dairy Science Association distinguished service award at Knoxville in the United States.

The gong, which Singh joked was a lifetime achievement award, was for outstanding contribution to dairy science and work improving the industry. 

Singh, 60, is a food scientist and major figure in the development of dairy science research, having started working at Massey in 1989. . .

TDC hopes Provincial Growth Fund will plug $18m hole in Waimea dam plan – Cherie Sivignon:

Tasman District Council has applied to the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund to plug an $18 million hole in funding for the proposed Waimea dam, undaunted by an apparent exclusion for water and irrigation projects.

A guide to the fund called Powering Up Aotearoa-New Zealand’s Regions is available on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website.

On page 5 of that guide under the headline “Fund exclusions”, it says: The following are not eligible for PGF [the Provincial Growth Fund] as they are funded by other means:
* Housing (unless it is a core part of a broader project and would not otherwise be required)
* Water and large-scale irrigation
* Social infrastructure (such as hospitals and schools) . .

Four does go into one – Sonita Chandar:

Teamwork is the secret to success for the Southland farm judged the best dairy business in the land. Sonita Chandar reports.

Despite three of the four partners living in the North Island the success of a Southland farming business can be attributed to exceptional teamwork and good clear lines of communication.

Each partner brings strengths to the table but no one is above the others. They are all equals, make decisions as a group and share in the spoils of their collective success. . .

Tradition lives on – Sonita Chandar:

The threat of Mycoplasma bovis might ruin an annual tradition that is a firm favourite on the agricultural calendar.

Calf club days around the country are being put on hold or cancelled because of fears of spreading the disease, which has seen cattle banned from some A&P Shows.

However, a group of Waikato farmers has come up with a failsafe idea that carries zero risks and allows children to enter calf clubs and compete against others without having to leave the farm.

On a Facebook page farmers suggested running an online club. . .

Sniffing out a new industry – Nigel Malthus:

At up to $250 retail for a well-shaped 80-90g black perigord truffle, growing the gourmet delicacy has its obvious rewards.

But it is also a high-risk business, says Amuri Truffiere’s Gavin Hulley. The truffiere is based on a 2ha hillside plot overlooking the North Canterbury township of Waikari.

Run as a joint venture with the landowner and another investor, it was planted out in 1997 as one of the first truffle farms in New Zealand. . .

A2 Milk shares rated both ‘outperform’ and ‘sell’ as views on outlook diverge – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Views on the outlook for The a2 Milk Company, the best performing stock on the S&P/NZX 50 Index last year, are widely divergent with one broking house this week reinstating an ‘outperform’ rating based on its potential for future global growth, while another downgraded it to ‘sell’ saying excess product is starting to build in Australia.

A2 Milk, which markets milk with a protein variant said to have health benefits, has had a meteoric rise in recent times, cracking a major milestone in February when it became the largest listed company in New Zealand by value, as its infant formula in China and liquid milk in Australia surged in popularity. At today’s price it is valued as the fourth-largest New Zealand listed company although opinions on its future are mixed. . . 

Fonterra and Future Consumer Limited JV to provide high value dairy nutrition in India:

Fonterra has announced a joint venture partnership with one of India’s largest consumer companies, Future Consumer Ltd, to produce a range of consumer and foodservice dairy products that will help meet the growing demand for high-quality dairy nutrition in India.

Lukas Paravicini, Fonterra’s Chief Operating Officer Global Consumer and Foodservice, said the partnership, under the name Fonterra Future Dairy Partners, will enable Fonterra to establish a presence in India. . . 

New Zealand’s newest farmer-owned foor company challenges  Virgin Australia to bet on an underdog:

Farmer-owned food company, Hinterland Foods, has launched an online appeal for support to have its meat products served on Virgin Australia flights.

It follows an invitation by the airline to the country’s meat companies, in response to rival Air New Zealand’s plant-based Impossible Burger, which has caused a stir in local rural communities.

To help rally support, Hinterland’s Taihape-based team produced a short video to better acquaint ‘the Aussies’ with rural New Zealand life and make a case for why the company’s products should be chosen.  . .

DryNZ, a boutique freshly dried food ingredients business clinches major international export order:

DryNZ, a start-up wholesale freshly dried fruit and vegetable business has won a major international export order, supplying dried fruit for an international company based in Europe.

DryNZ Managing Director Anne Gibson says the deal is a major coup for the Waiuku based business, situated adjacent to the Pukekohe food-bowl supplying apple, peach, blackcurrant, kiwifruit and lemon dried food pieces. . . 

Farmer Tim says ENOUGH IS ENOUGH to farmer suicides #ILiveBecauseYouFarm – The Bullvine:

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! I need your help. Five times in the last week I’ve received messages about farmers taking their lives. It is getting way too close to home for me now. Last week agriculture lost an amazing soldier. Her passion and compassion for all things farming was contagious. Anyone who had the privilege to meet her instantly became inspired to be a better person. I do not want to needlessly lose another friend, farmer, neighbour or agvocate. We need to do something.

So many people suffer silently and I know that we can’t help them all but sometime even a small gesture can have a huge impact on someone’s life. . .


Rural round-up

March 1, 2018

Big week for agri-food in the Manawatu – Kate Taylor:

New Zealand AgriFood Week is returning to Manawatu with a series of more than 10 events dedicated to developing, celebrating and showcasing the country’s food producing industries.

The week in association with ASB, is designed to help New Zealand agrifood businesses succeed through the development of innovation, investment and people. Project managed by Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA), the week will deliver a programme of events designed to connect, challenge and grow the agrifood industry.

This year’s theme is “Transforming Food Producers for the Future”. . . 

Top excavator operators do battle – Sonita Chandar:

Using a 12-tonne Hitachi excavator to pour a cup of tea, slam dunking a basketball and transporting an egg is no easy task but for New Zealand’s top excavator operators, it’s a piece of cake.

The boys and their toys will be back at Central Districts Field Days in Feilding to do battle for the Civil Contractor New Zealand’s (CCNZ’s) National Excavator Operator Competition title.

Ten of the country’s top excavator operators and will be taking on current titleholder Steve Galbraith, from Galbraith Earthmovers, Napier. Steve has won it for the last two years and is determined to make that three wins in a row. . . 

NZDIA Executive Chair announced as Dairy Woman of the Year finalist:

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Executive Chair has been named as one of three finalists in the 2018 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year awards.

Rachel Baker farms in the Central Hawkes Bay with her husband and three children. She and her husband won the Manawatu Sharemilker of the Year title in 2009, and progressed to large scale sharemilking before purchasing a dairy support unit in 2017. . . 

After large New Zealand kiwi fruit, small Italian ones followed:

The contrast between the European and the New Zealand kiwi fruit season is large. New Zealand mostly harvested large sizes. The European kiwi fruit season is characterised by small sizes and a smaller volume. The harvest was particularly disappointing in Italy. Nele Moorthamers of Zespri talks about the challenges of this season, and the growth opportunities for the originally New Zealand company for kiwi fruit during the European season.
During the season, the Zespri kiwi fruit mostly comes from Italy and France.  . . 

Fleece patrol: how organic wool from Patagonia is creating sustainable luxury – Laura Hawkins:

With the power to salve the soul and sell stock, sustainability is luxury’s new holy grail. As we investigate in two special reports, it begins with the pioneers rethinking the production of raw materials. Part I explores how that means being able to trace one’s organic knit back to a happy Patagonian sheep, part II follows the same thread by investigating denim naturally dyed with Tennessee-grown indigo.

Renewable, warm, odour-resistant, non-flammable, hypoallergenic, elastic, soft, wrinkle-free: wool is a natural fibre with a lot going for it. Yet according to a 2017 report by the global non-profit organisation Textile Exchange, wool and down accounts for only 1.3 per cent of the world’s fibre production. This is partly due to a communication problem: ‘Over the last half a century, consumer messaging on wool has been confusing,’ says Alberto Rossi, business development manager of Organica, a new arm of French company Chargeurs Luxury Materials, one of the world’s leading suppliers of premium wool fibre. Cheap synthetic alternatives now have a 68.3 per cent share of the textiles market. . . 

NZ  outdoor recreation could be big business:

A New Zealand outdoor recreation advocacy says outdoor recreation is a very big contributor to the economy, but lacked appreciation by government.

Andi Cockroft, co-chairman of the Council of Outdoor Recreation said a recent study in the US showed the outdoor recreation industry’s contribution to the US’s GDP was larger than that of all mining, including the extraction of oil and gas.

“And the US study showed the industry is expanding. In 2016, it grew 3.8 percent, compared to the overall economy’s growth of 2.8 percent,” he said.. . . 

Young farmer focus: ‘Farming is not just a man’s world’ – Eleanor Durdy, 23:

Growing up on a farm was the greatest gift I have ever received. I learnt to drive before I could touch the pedals, ate mud for breakfast and played conkers without a hard hat.

I became the ‘roller girl’, changed my first oil filter and found a passion for farming.

But as a girl, I was not encouraged to become a farmer. “It is not very ladylike,” they said. “You need a back-up.” So that is what I did. . . 


Rural round-up

February 9, 2018

Watch mates farmers told – Kerrie Waterworth:

Otago farmers are being asked ”to keep an eye on their partners and neighbours” as the stress from the drought, or what has been termed a medium-scale adverse weather event, continues.

Otago Federated Farmers president Phill Hunt said the rain last week was a big boost to the farming community but ”it’s not over yet”.

”The rain and the cooler temperatures have been very welcome; in particular the rain has filled up a lot of dams both for stock water and for irrigation.”

”People who have put infrastructure in for irrigation have been staring down the barrel of not being able to use it; a very expensive clothes line is how it was described to me by one farmer.” . . 

Two more farms infected with Mycoplasma bovis:

The number of properties with the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis has risen, with 23 farms now infected.

The latest properties are in Southland and the Waitaki District.

First found in South Canterbury in July last year the disease is now spread from Southland to Hawke’s Bay.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has 38 farms in lockdown and said it was still aiming to eradicate the disease. . .

Friendship and farming for Hugh Abbiss and Patrick Crawshaw in Takapau – Kate Taylor:

Central Hawke’s Bay friends and workmates, Patrick Crawshaw and Hugh Abbiss, will become rivals in the East Coast Young Farmer of the Year on February 17. Kate Taylor reports.

The temperature has been higher than 30 degrees all week, so it’s no surprise to catch Central Hawke’s Bay farmers Hugh Abbiss and Patrick Crawshaw taking the chance to work inside in the shade.

They’re working out feed budgets and stock movements for the next two months as the above average Hawke’s Bay summer has given them an abundance of feed.

The pair work for Foley Farming, where the make-up of the staff is a bit different to most – with four staff, all aged under 30 and three with university degrees. . . 

New take on use of coarse, strong wool for commercial purposes – Annette Lambly:

A Northland farming couple are hoping to add value to the wool they shear from the family flock by creating high value, decorative and functional architectural products which includes a natural wall covering.

Sarah Hewlett and her husband Chris Coffey run Hewlett Point, a sheep and beef farm near Mata around 25 kilometres south east of Whangarei.

Their two young sons are the seventh generation to live on the family farm. . . 

Motion-sensor cameras on farms – Alexia Johnston:

Farmers are turning to hunting technology to protect stock from thieves.

While Parliament is debating a proposed law that would impose harsher penalties on stock rustlers, property owners are already taking steps to protect their stock.

Hunting and Fishing New Zealand Timaru owner Alister Jones said a ”huge” percentage of his sales were now going towards farmers who wanted to protect their land and property.

Previously, sales of motion sensor cameras, also known as game cameras, were predominantly made to hunters who wanted to monitor and catch animals such as deer. . . 

Irrigation an essential tool for Canterbury farmers – Sonita Chandar:

Wet spring conditions followed by a hot dry summer is creating havoc for a Canterbury Dairy farmer 

A Canterbury farmer wants whoever flicked the fine weather switch on, to switch it back to rain for a while.

Robin Hornblow and fiancée Kirstie Austin are farm managers on Willsden Farm Ltd, a 306ha farm at Te Pirita – one of several owned by the Camden Group.

This is their first season on this farm and so far, the weather has not been kind. . . 

Warning over rising facial eczema spore counts:

Farmers are being warned to keep a close eye on their stock as facial eczema spore counts rise around the country.

Spore counts are trending upwards in Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, East Coast and the lower North Island, as well as in Tasman and on the West Coast.

Facial eczema affects cattle, sheep, goats and deer and can result in liver and skin damage, which can severely affect an animal, seriously reduce production and can in worst cases cause death.

It is estimated that production losses caused by the disease are around $200m annually in this country. . .

Autogrow opens virtual innovation community:

Autogrow has opened a virtual agtech and science lab and are inviting indoor ag developers, growers and enthusiasts to join in building a dynamic and innovative community.

Following on from the launch of their Jelly SDK, APIs and Autogrow Cloud platform last year, the Autogrow Lab was set up as a collaborative environment for continued research and development of control systems for indoor agriculture.

“The industry is a fragmented hardware landscape with software and data technology being introduced into the mix. Our goal is to bring much of that together in an open platform, add in the science of plant biology and create a space for discussion, invention and pushing the boundaries,” explains Chief Technology Officer Jeffrey Law. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 8, 2017

Story of Hakataramea farrmer and his sausage dog subject of new children’s book – Jody O’Callaghan:

The instant bond between a South Canterbury farmer and his vertically-challenged sausage dog is the stuff legends are made of.

An unlikely friendship formed the day miniature dachshund Poppy was handed to Hakataramea farmer James Hayman. It has become the subject of children’s book Bob n Pops, their nicknames.

Author Harriet Bremner, Hayman’s partner, has released the book nine months after the 27-year-old was killed in a farm accident in January. . . 

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Irish love their farmers why don’t kiwis? – Peter Burke:

During the election campaign NZ farmers – and the rural community in general – came under attack from politicians and the public, and felt they were being demonised.

This is in sharp contrast to what’s happening 20,000km away in Ireland, where the people are proud of what their farmers do. Peter Burke reports.

In Ireland the public are proud of what their farmers are doing, says Padraig Brennan, director of markets for Origin Green. . . 

Run by Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board), Origin Green is a highly successful quality assurance programme that most of Ireland’s dairy farmers have signed up to; o have the nation’s major food and drink manufacturers, some beef farmers and even major retail outlets such as McDonalds restaurant chain. . .

Poo is powering a Southland dairy shed – Sonita Chandar:

Poos and wees are heating and lighting up a cowshed in Southland.

In what could only be described as an environmental game-changer, Glenarlea Farm, one of Fortuna Group’s farms in Southland, is converting effluent methane into electricity.

Dairy Green agricultural and engineering consultant John Scandrett says the new system has been 13 years in the making and is now generating enough electricity to power the cowshed and heat the shed hot water. . . 

Reducing nutrient losses wins dairy science award:

Investing in cutting edge science paid off for the Pastoral 21 (P21) research team from DairyNZ and AgResearch at the 2017 Kudos Science Excellence Awards.

The P21 team won the Agricultural Science Award for the research, being applied on commercial farms across the country, that has helped increase productivity while lowering the environmental footprint through the reduction of nutrient losses.

The research has led to 30-40 percent reductions in nitrate losses on farm.

Small changes have led to big environmental gains, says DairyNZ principle scientist Dr David Chapman. . . 

Polish Dairy to join Fonterra’s Global Dairy Trade platform from Nov 21 – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Polish Dairy, the fifth largest producer of milk in the European Union, will join Fonterra Cooperative Group’s Global Dairy Trade platform from Nov 21, initially offering skim milk powder, whole milk powder, butter and lactose on the platform.

“Central Europe has become an increasingly important dairy region. The addition of a seller from Poland is evidence of the emerging strength of that nation’s dairy sector, and will be welcomed by our network of over 500 registered GDT Events buyers,” said Eric Hansen, director of Global Dairy Trade in a press release. The platform, which has moved more than US$20 billion in dairy products since it launched in 2008, is looking to broaden its offering to meet customer needs. . . 


Rural round-up

July 31, 2017

MPI urges vigilance – Annette Scott:

While he may be the first in New Zealand to have the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis detected on his farm, South Canterbury dairy farmer Aad van Leeuwen is confident he won’t be the last.

The Ministry for Primary Industries notified the detection of Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) disease on a South Canterbury dairy farm on July 25, but the identity of the property wasn’t revealed until four days later, on Friday, prompting speculation to run rife meantime.

Devastated that the disease – listed as an unwanted organism under NZ’s Biosecurity Act 1993 – had hit his dairy operation, van Leeuwen said he was co-operating 100% with MPI. . .

Japan frozen beef tariffs expected – Alan Williams:

New Zealand beef exporters are facing 50% tariffs on frozen exports to Japan over the next eight months.

Suppliers in this country have been caught in the reaction to big shipments from Australia, and especially the United States this year, so that total volumes have reached a trigger point at which the Japanese government has decided it needs to protect domestic farmers. . .

Give up farming generate power – Neil Malthus:

Farmers installing solar power can now get a better return from it than from farming itself, a solar power installer claims.

Electrical contractor Andrew Wells, of ABW Electric, Christchurch, recently set up Sunergy Solar to market solar photovoltaic systems. His company specialises in farm installations, marketed at farming field days and A&P shows; it also does residential systems.

Wells sees huge potential for solar power on farms: electricity charges for a dairy shed average $5000 – $6000 a month and solar panels now cost only about 8% of what they did 10 years ago. . . 

More wool needed for a brighter future – WNZ – Pam Tipa:

Greater sales volume is critical for Wools of NZ, says chair Mark Shadbolt.
The trademarked scouring process Glacier XT will be a more volume-focused business, he says.

“That will create lot more demand. It is creating a wool that is a lot whiter and brighter and is the sort innovation and technology we need to invest in to add value to the wool.

“We have had a lot of interest in the market for it because the brightness is the key aspect that the industry hadn’t been able to acquire until this technology became available.” . .

Southland a winner – Sonita Chandar:

Southlander Katrina Thomas knew “absolutely nothing about cows” when she and husband James Dixon converted to dairy farming.

But she turned that lack of knowledge around by joining the Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) and volunteering her time to the community.

It is this generosity that saw her win the 2017 Dairy Women’s Network Dairy Community Leadership award. . .

NZ’s prosperity still tethered to farm gate – Liam Dann:

There’s nothing like a biosecurity scare to remind us that New Zealand’s economic prosperity is still – for better or for worse – tethered to the farm gate.

The instant that news of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak in South Canterbury hit the headlines last Tuesday the dollar plunged.

Luckily it only dropped 20 basis points (0.2 per cent) before it became apparent that this was a more benign disease than foot and mouth.

But it was enough to put a deep V shape in the daily dollar chart and illustrate how quickly a more serious outbreak could take this country to the brink of recession. . .

Fonterra Australia increase farmgate milk price for the 2017/18 season:

Fonterra Australia has today advised its farmers of an increase of 20 cents per kilogram of milk solids (kgMS) to its farmgate milk price for the 2017/18 season, bringing its average farmgate milk price to $5.50kgMS. The increase will apply from 1 July 2017 and will be paid on 15 August 2017.

Fonterra’s additional payment of 40 cents/kgMS is payable on top of the revised farmgate milk price, and brings the total average cash paid to $5.90kgMS.

Fonterra Australia Managing Director René Dedoncker said that improved market conditions and the strength ohf the Australian business supported this step up. . . .


Rural round-up

July 30, 2017

Restrictions on group’s farms – Sally Rae:

Sixteen properties belonging to the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group in South Canterbury have had Restricted Place Notices imposed on them by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) after the outbreak of the bacterial cattle disease mycoplasma bovis.

The effect of the notices is to control the movement of stock.

Two dozen cows on one of the group’s farms have tested positive for the disease and are the first in New Zealand to have the disease. A further 150 cows on the property have signs of infection.

MPI veterinarians are working with local vets to assess stock on the affected farm, which has a milking herd of about 1000 cows.

MPI regional controller Dr Chris Rodwell said the situation was well under control, praising Glenavy farmer Aad van Leeuwen for the way he had handled the outbreak. . .

Immigration announcement: Disappointing but there’s hope, says DairyNZ:

DairyNZ is disappointed that today’s announcement by Government has not addressed the concerns raised about migrant staff.

However, DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says there is hope for farmers who need to employ people from overseas.

“Government has committed to tackling the issues as a priority to help provide certainty for farmers who need to employ migrant staff, and those staff members themselves, as well as their families.” . . .

Opening the farm gates  – Sonita Chandra:

Metaphorically speaking, dairy farmers have closed their farm gates in recent times for fear of criticism, but this now needs to change, says Federated Farmers dairy vice-chairman Wayne Langford.

“The farm gates need to be opened again so that we can show what we are doing, but also see what our communities want us to be doing.

“As dairy farmers, we have to be proud of the industry and proud of what we are doing. If we are not proud of it, then we need to make changes.” . .

Top performing farm quick to adopt tech :

Take a scenic drive ten minutes west of Masterton in the Wairarapa and you’ll be greeted with a rustic sign announcing your arrival at “Spring Valley farms”. Nestled deep in the Kaituna valley, it’s the home of Matt and Lynley Wyeth and their two sons.

Spring Valley Enterprises farms roughly ten thousand sheep and another four thousand stock units made up of three hundred Angus breeding cows. It sits on 16 hundred hectares of hard hill country with some decent quality flat lands. It consistently rates in the top 5 per cent of performers in the red meat industry, in part this is due to their early adoption of agri-tech.

The Wyeth’s employ a range of technology each with a specific, measurable outcome that allows them to make small tweaks, accumulatively, saving them money. . .

Plan for calving – include talking to staff about risks:

Farmers preparing for calving should also be thinking about effective ways to keep workers safe and well, said WorkSafes Agriculture Sector Lead Al McCone.28 July 2017

Plan for calving – include talking to workers about risks

Farmers preparing for calving should also be thinking about effective ways to keep workers safe and well, said WorkSafe’s Agriculture Sector Lead Al McCone. . .

Zespri opens new pan-American office in California, growing sales:

It was an all-New Zealand affair in Orange County, California today as Zespri officially opened its regional office to manage growing sales across Northern, Central and Southern America.

Zespri Chief Executive Lain Jager says Zespri is growing strongly across North America with most of this growth coming from the new gold variety Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit, which is proving hugely popular.

“The New Zealand kiwifruit industry is on track to more than double sales to $4.5 billion by 2025 and an important part of this growth will come from developing markets like North America, as well growing sales in our more established markets. Zespri is relaunching the kiwifruit category in the United States and the wider Americas region to attract new consumers and grow sales,” says Mr Jager. . .


Rural round-up

April 7, 2017

NZ could miss out on gene-editing revolution – Richard MacManus:

Is the gene editing revolution passing New Zealand by?

New Zealand is a proudly GE-free country, meaning it is illegal to produce or sell genetically engineered foods here. There are some exclusions for processed foods that have imported GE ingredients, like soy or corn flour, but they must be approved by a local authority and clearly labelled. However, there is zero tolerance for GE in fresh foods – including foods bound for export. Considering that New Zealand’s “clean green” brand is a key part of our export trade, it makes sense that GE foods are treated with caution here. But are we being too conservative, given that a new technology called CRISPR is opening up opportunities for both our economy and our environment.

CRISPR (pronounced crisper) has made gene editing nearly as simple as editing a website. Tools like CRISPR-Cas9 allow scientists to edit parts of a genome by removing, adding or altering sections of its DNA sequence. It is truly a brave new world. . . 

Objective carcase measurement – essential or just nice to have Allan Barber:

Objective carcase management (OCM) appears to be the holy grail for Meat and Livestock Australia judging by its plan to seek A$150 million from the Australian government to fund the installation of Dual Energy X-ray 3D carcase grading technology (DEXA) in up to 90 slaughterhouses, intended to roll out this year. The loan would be repaid from industry levies, although there are no firm details yet about how the costs would be shared.

When MLA announced Project 150 in November 2016, the Beef and Sheep Councils of Australia were both in favour, but the executive officer of the Australian Beef Association came out saying it shouldn’t be the producers but the processors who paid for it. More recently both the processor funded Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) and levy funded Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC) have come out against rushing into such an expensive project without proper analysis and a robust business case. . .

Taking aim at Fish & Game over conflict of interests – Andrew McGiven:

I saw that Fish & Game held a national “take a kid out fishing day” a few weeks ago. While I applaud anyone who can encourage our children to ditch the video games and get outside to experience the great outdoors, it did raise several questions.

Why, for example, are we trying so hard to improve the health of our fresh waterways when the likes of Fish & Game are paid to protect invasive, predatory species such as trout and salmon, which actively decimate our native species such as koura (New Zealand freshwater cray)?

When sediment is such a major component of our water degradation, why is it that koi carp can pillage our river systems, collapsing river banks and stirring up soil, and yet this problem has been largely ignored by the organisation. 

It is discouraging when farmers work hard at establishing wetlands and native groves only to have them poisoned in a few short years by wildfowl E. coli. . . 

Rural women make a huge contribution to agriculture – Sonita Chandar:

Fiona Gower is a true “Rural Woman” having lived and worked in the rural sector most of her life.

As the new president of Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ), she has set herself several goals to accomplish during her term.

Her greatest aspiration is for RWNZ to be seen as the organisation of choice within the wider sector for all women, communities, organisations and decision makers. . . 

Heightened readiness for Stink Bug threat:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says activities to prevent the establishment of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) have ramped up over summer and helped raise public awareness of what is a serious biosecurity threat.

“This is a major agricultural pest worldwide, as well as a household nuisance. While it is found here from time to time, if it became established it would have significant economic and social impacts,” says Mr Guy.

“BMSB has been rapidly spreading across the world and there have been increasingly more finds detected at the New Zealand border. Three confirmed post border finds occurred during February, all reported by members of the public. . . 

Brazil intent on expanding beef markets in Asia, as Australian sector urged to differentiate itself – Lydia Burton:

A senior Rabobank economist says the Australian beef industry should continue to focus on differentiating its products as Brazil expands its markets in Asia.

Brazil took over from Australia as the largest exporter of beef to China in 2016, offering a cheaper protein, and has strong interest in South Korea and re-opening trade with Japan.

Japan suspended Brazilian beef imports in 2012 after it was found an animal had died of mad cow disease.

Indonesia has also been expressing interest for some years in opening up a live cattle trade with Brazil, with biosecurity protocols currently being discussed. . . 

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Rural round-up

October 13, 2016

 – Allan Barber:

Just when we thought New Zealand was about to enjoy the benefits of several new agreements, not least TPP, the world appears to be growing more and more averse to signing up to trade deals. There is a distinct trend towards self-reliance and protectionism among countries that have up to now been champions of the benefits of free trade, most obviously sizable blocs of voters in the United States, EU and Great Britain exercising their democratic right to protest.

The problem with free trade for disaffected voters is the direct connection with the theories of liberal economics and the rise of capitalism which have dominated the global economy for the last quarter of a century. When the benefits of capitalism were shared, resulting in generally higher prosperity, free trade was seen as a force for good, but in the years since the GFC capitalism has got a bad name, deservedly so in many cases. Economic hardship has not been shared equally – banking directors and executives were responsible for billions of dollars of shareholder losses, but most of them have got away with it and many continue to receive bonuses in spite of the losses. . . 

Sicily a melting pot for food production – Allan Barber:

Sicily has been taken over by the Saracens, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans,  Swabia, Austro-Hungary and Spain, before Garibaldi led the rebellion that led to the unification of Italy under one monarch, Vittorio Emanuele I, in 1861. Each of the occupying powers has brought something different to the food and agricultural produce of this unique island.

The Greeks brought olives, the Romans began wheat growing, bread making and wine production, the Arabs brought spices and invented dried spaghetti, the Normans were responsible for salted cod and the Spanish introduced candied fruit and marzipan, while the Italians have refined bread and pastry baking and wine making. There is no evidence of Swabian or Austro-Hungarian influences, although their occupations were fairly brief. . . 

Wool to take its rightful price – Alan Emerson:

Generally, nothing is as divisive in rural New Zealand as the debate about wool and how to market and promote it.

The possible exception is Merino.  Over the years the debates I’ve reported on and the “new initiatives” I’ve commented on have been legendary.  

It would have been the most soul-destroying, internecine and negative saga of our sector and I can remember back to the great acquisition debate and the rise of the Sheep and Cattlemen’s Association.  

The mistakes farmers or their representatives have made over the years have also cost us dearly. . . 

New season brings a new challenge – Sonita Chandar:

A showjumping career came to an abrupt halt for a Manawatu farmer who has found passion in dairying.

But now, contract milker Renae Flett has the best of both worlds – her new job allows her to keep her horse Giant in the paddock by her house – and she has big plans for the farm and her future.

She is the Manawatu Dairy Manager of the Year and now has her sights set on the Share Farmer title. . . 

Cellular ag – Robert Hickson:

A US meat company is now an investor in vegan burgers, and selling them alongside meat patties. That’s just one of the signals pointing to big changes in food production systems in affluent nations.

Lab-grown meat gets the headlines, but burgers made from plant proteins are well ahead of that, and likely to have a much lower yuck factor.

Red meat consumption is trending downward in many western countries, which is an important influencing factor. . . 

Buzzing Blagdon bees have been caught 300m away – Brittany Baker:

The case of the missing swarm has been solved, but the hobbyist beekeeper who lost them has missed out on her pot of gold.

On Monday “two balls of bees” buzzed off from Gina Hartley’s garden.

Hartley, who was wanting to expand her at-home hive collection, turned to Neighbourly and Facebook for help in returning them. . . 

Results of Fonterra Shareholder Voting at Special Meeting:

Fonterra shareholders have supported changes to the Co-operative’s governance and representation model, including a reduced Board and changes to the election process for Farmer Directors.

At today’s Special Meeting in Palmerston North 85.96 per cent of votes were cast in favour of the governance recommendation, sufficient to meet the 75 per cent support required under Fonterra’s Constitution.

The results of the resolutions are:
RESOLUTION RESULTS –
% in favour
Resolution 1: Governance related amendments to the Constitution and the Shareholders’ Council By-laws 85.96 . . 

Yealands Wine Group puts in largest solar panel installation in New Zealand – Oliver Lewis:

A Marlborough winery has so many solar panels it could power 86 houses.

The Seaview Vineyard winery, owned by the Yealands Wine Group, has a total of 1314 photovoltaic panels across its roof.

The company first had solar panels fitted at its Seddon winery over the course of 2012 and 2013, which at the time was the largest installation in the country before it was surpassed. . . 

 


Rural round-up

September 28, 2015

Freehold on Mackenzie Crown land not an easy ticket to millions, farmers say – Tim Fulton:

Farmers accused of making big profits from Crown land deals in the Mackenzie Basin say they are doing the bare minimum to make a living.

High Country property researcher and Lincoln University academic Dr Ann Brower says the Crown is missing out when tenure review land is sold freehold by farmers.

The median on-selling price per hectare was 493 times the Crown’s original sale price, she said. . .

Signs of movement on dairy as TPP negotiators meet in Atlanta – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – News media in the US and Canada are reporting signs of a deal coming together on access for dairy products into North America as trade ministers gather in Atlanta, Georgia, for the latest round of talks attempting to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade and investment pact.

The Atlanta talks are being billed as potentially the final round of talks, although New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser has yet to commit to attend them, despite being in the US this week for climate change talks in New York.

He said almost a week ago that there was still no adequate offer from the key TPP dairy-producing countries – the US, Canada and Japan. Market access for dairy products and automobiles, and patent extensions for new generation bio-logic pharmaceuticals, are reportedly the only remaining sticking points of substance between the 12 countries negotiating the new Pacific Rim agreement, which US president Barack Obama is committed to concluding as part of a strategy to assert US geopolitical interests in Asia and counter the rise of China. . . 

No heavy hand – Neal Wallace:

Shanghai Maling president Shen Wei Ping has given an assurance he will not use his casting vote to exert control over Silver Fern Farms should shareholders agree to a partnership between the two food companies.

In an interview during a visit to Dunedin, Shen said the clause giving the Shanghai Maling Aquarius chairman the casting vote on the appointment of the chief executive and annual business plan, was an auditor requirement for reporting the company’s financial results.

He said the proposed deal between the Chinese company and SFF would be a true partnership with board decisions by consensus. . . 

Taggart returned as Ballance director:

Murray Taggart has been returned as a Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ward C director in the South Island after a three-way contest for the position.

Also seeking the directorship were Temuka intensive cropping and livestock finishing farmer Nick Ward and former chief executive of Silver Fern Farms Keith Cooper.

Mr Taggart, who is also chairman of meat co-operative Alliance Group, joined the Ballance board in 2009. He is a past director of CRT Society and Southern Farms NZ, past chairman of the National Meat and Wool Council and Federated Farmers, and past member of the National Board of Federated Farmers. . . 

Generic marketing questioned – Matthew Cawood:

WHEN you have powerful brands, do you need generic marketing?

Agrifood consultant David McKinna posed that rhetorical question to the recent 2015 Meat Industry Conference as part of his discussion on the rise of brand marketing.

“You don’t see your breakfast cereal in generic marketing campaigns. You don’t see generic campaigns for toothpaste. The brands do the job,” he said.

“Your industry has spent a lot of money on generic marketing. As they say in advertising, fifty per cent of it works, but we don’t know which bit.”

Dr McKinna foresees a future in which generic marketing takes a back seat, but doesn’t disappear entirely.  . . 

Government delivers National Policy Direction for Pest Management:

The National Policy Direction for Pest Management has come into effect.

MPI’s director of biosecurity and animal welfare policy, Julie Collins, says established pests are estimated to cost New Zealand’s primary sector up to $3.3 billion annually.

“Even small improvements to New Zealand’s pest management system could save millions of dollars in the long term.”

“The National Direction will support national and regional management of challenging pest issues such as wilding conifers, by ensuring consistent approaches to the way rules are set across New Zealand and that landowner obligations are clearly signalled and underpinned by robust analysis.” . . 

Wendy Harker making Holstein history in NZ – Sonita Chandar:

She may have made history by being elected the first female head of Holstein Friesian New Zealand but the new president says it will not define who she is or what she does.

Wendy Harker, a Te Awamutu breeder, is the first woman to take on the top role in the association’s 105-year history.  She has sat on the board for six years as a council member.

“I have been a part of the national team for six years,” she says. . .

Connie Sue Farmer-Wollenberg's photo.


Rural round-up

September 6, 2015

Farmers frustrated with increased poaching – Mike  Watson:

Kit Sandall shakes his head.

Normally mild mannered, the Awatere, Marlborough, sheep farmer is bemused by the sentencing of a helicopter pilot caught poaching on his property earlier this year.

Sandall was reacting to a report that the pilot, Dean Matthews, of Renwick, had been fined $2000 for unlawful hunting after being caught on film poaching on Sandall’s land in April.

The maximum penalty for the court to uphold is $100,000 fine, and/or $200,000 for corporate offending.

Sandall received the $2000 fine payment as reparation but he is still shaking his head. . . 

It’s all about teamwork for Duncan and Anne-Marie Wells – Sonita Chandar:

An award-winning Otago farming couple credit their success to hard work and good governance.

Duncan and Anne-Marie Wells who farm at Outram were this year’s Supreme winners of the Dairy Business of the Year competition.

The couple who are 50 per cent equity shareholders in the business, say the support they receive immeasurable. . .

Crop spraying drone approved:

An unmanned crop-spraying helicopter has become the first drone to be approved for commercial work under new aviation rules.

The Yamaha Rmax, reportedly costing $120,000, on Thursday received the Civil Aviation Authority’s first certification to be used as a commercial unmanned aerial vehicle.

Before August 1, the old rules meant it could not have been used because of its weight (at nearly 100kg) and the intention to use chemicals. . . 

NZ Farm Environment Trust/Balance Farm Environmental Awards:

The lingering effects of the devastating PSA outbreak didn’t stop Bay of Plenty Kiwifruit growers Stephen Kenna and Phillipa Wright entering the Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

“We are passionate about the Kiwifruit industry, despite its biosecurity issues, and we thought we had a good story to tell,” Stephen says.

He and Phillipa run a 15ha orchard at Ongare Point, north of Katikati. Like many kiwifruit growers they were hit hard by the vine disease PSA-V, but the couple’s positive attitude and careful planning have helped them cope with the disaster. This impressed judges of the 2015 Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA), who awarded the operation three category awards, including the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award. . . 

Nominations open for 2015 Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal

The Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal judging panel is once again calling on the kiwifruit industry to nominate their finest leaders for the 2015 award.

The kiwifruit Industry Advisory Council (IAC) set up the Hayward Medal four years ago to honour the people who have led the industry and established it as a New Zealand export success story, selling more than $1.57 billion of premium-quality Zespri Kiwifruit last year.

IAC chairman Paul Jones says nominations are encouraged for people right across the industry who’ve shown excellence, commitment and leadership. . . 

Fonterra holds Aussie price but gives a warning :

Fonterra Australia has told its farmers to be prepared for the possibility of a step-down in milk price this season.

At the same time it held its farmgate opening price at $5.60 a kilogram of milksolids as part of review.

Fonterra Australia managing director Judith Swales said the company had put its Australian farmgate price and forecast closing price range for this season “under review given the challenging conditions and extreme volatility that are impacting domestic and global dairy markets”. . .

Nurse Loves Farmer's photo.


Rural round-up

February 7, 2015

Landcorp Farming 2014/15 half year financial results:

Landcorp Farming has recorded operating revenue of $109.8 million for the six months to 31 December 2014 and a net operating profit of $1 million.

Landcorp Chief Executive, Steven Carden, said the first six months had been challenging and Landcorp is reviewing its full year profit forecast of between $1 -$6 million.

“A result like this will come as no surprise given the milk price and drought challenges. However we have cushioned the impact of these external factors by anticipating them early. One example is our support of the Fonterra Guaranteed Milk Price Scheme and another is our proactive livestock management around the country ahead of the drought.

“The fall in milk prices has significantly impacted our revenue, although we remain on track for a modest profit. . .

Responsible access theme of commission – Mark Neeson:

With summer here and New Zealanders embarking on their annual migration to the outdoors, it is an ideal time to reflect on the widespread access so many of us enjoy to our country’s lakes, beaches, rivers and mountains.

The outdoors provides opportunities to explore new places, and experience solitude, challenge, adventure, and a different perspective on life.

It is this image of New Zealand that is celebrated and promoted around the world, helping to create a thriving tourist industry. . .

Storm damages crops – Leith Huffadine:

A Dumbarton fruitgrower says a storm on Sunday afternoon has ”written off” most of the crops on his property.

The man, who did not want to be named, said his corn, pumpkins and peaches had been damaged in the downpour, which was localised to Dumbarton, between Roxburgh and Ettrick, and some surrounding areas.

”There might be a wee bit left but not much. [There’s] nothing there of any value.” . . .

Family affair keeps family farming dream alive – Sonita Chandar:

The dreams of a Taranaki farmer have become reality although he did not live to see them to fruition.

Duncan and Fiona Corrigan planned to expand their Hawera farm but when Duncan died in October 2012 his family continued what he started.

Josh, 22, the second eldest of 10 children, put his career on hold and took on the challenge of managing it. . .

 US fans raise their glasses to Kiwi wine – Gerard Hutching:

The United States is likely to become New Zealand’s leading wine destination this year.

Although more litres were shipped to Britain last year, the US is tipped to soon overtake that amount.

In terms of value, Australia is just ahead of the US, but that should also change this year.

For the year ended November 2014, wine exports to the US were worth $348 million, to Australia $360m and Britain $332m. . .

New Zealand Rural Games added 22 new photos to the album: The Running of the Wools — at Queenstown NZ

More than 350 merino sheep from Bendigo and Mt Nicholas stations in downtown Queenstown to preview the ‪#‎Hilux‬ New Zealand Rural Games 2015.

New Zealand Rural Games's photo.New Zealand Rural Games's photo.
New Zealand Rural Games's photo.

 The Farming Show added 3 new photos.
A great start to the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games as 350 merinos were herded through central Queenstown! Looking forward to all the rest of the events kicking off tomorrow morning from 8! The Farming Show's photo.
The Farming Show's photo.


Rural round-up

December 2, 2014

Transforming the family farm – Sonita Chandar:

A dairy farm owned by the Treder family in Pahiatua for 100 years is a work in progress and has potential to become a top-performing property.

Michael and Jason Treder own a 50 per cent share in the family farm, with their mother Margaret owning the other half-share.

The farm has never been properly developed as subsequent generations have farmed in the same way. But, the Treders can see the potential to increase production and profitability by investing in infrastructure. . .

Tatua dairy company punches above weight– Andrea Fox:

Tatua is unashamedly big for its boots.

With 100 years under its belt and more often than not the country’s payout leader, the little Waikato company with the outsized reputation isn’t about to pull its head in now.

Chief executive of six years Paul McGilvary states confidently that in the next 10 years Tatua’s revenue can be expected to grow by 50 per cent to $400 million, and its staff by 60 per cent to 500.

And when it fills to capacity its new drier, due to start operating in June next year, Tatua will be on the way to being the world’s biggest producer of dairy hydrolysates. . .

New grass mix at cutting edge:

A new mix of grasses developed at Massey University will cope better in droughts and provide more food.

Agronomist Dr Lydia Cranston says New Zealand farmers have traditionally used ryegrass and clover as a pasture mix, or pure chicory, but as climate changes and droughts become more common and severe, alternative grass varieties need to be considered.

‘Thinking into the future, we’ve got to have alternative options and definitely the results of my study show that both chicory and plantain are good at displaying drought tolerance and continuing to grow under those dry conditions.’

Cranston, who graduated this week with a PhD in plant science, investigated a new herb and legume mix containing chicory, plantain, red clover, and white clover. She found in a glasshouse environment chicory and plantain withstood dry conditions better than ryegrass and clover.

Institute fighting for regional voices – Colin Bettles:

THE Regional Australia Institute (RAI) is “kicking goals” but concerns remain about the medium to long-term future of the independent policy think tank, says chair Mal Peters.

The RAI was launched in March 2012 after being initiated by regional independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, part of the $10 billion deal for regional Australia under the previous hung parliament.

According to Mr Peters, the Institute was designed to conduct research into regional issues like agriculture and infrastructure as an “an authoritative and trusted source of information and policy advice”. . .

Aussie fabas risk becoming ‘has bean’  – Gregor Heard:

AUSTRALIAN faba bean growers risk losingN premium markets as a result of segregations that do not meet prescribed industry standards, according to  chairman Peter Wilson.

Mr Wilson is primarily referring to Viterra, one of the major receivers of faba beans in South Australia, which also has a presence in Victoria’s bean producing districts.

Viterra is not storing beans this year, according to Pulse Australia standards, but rather as one segregation for beans of No. 2 standard and above, and one for feed-quality beans. . .

Rosters on farms –  Andrew  Hoggard:

There are benefits to be gained from a ‘five-on, two-off’ roster but you must have a plan in place to maintain productivity I ‘ve had questions put to me like, “Why don’t dairy farm workers work five days just like everyone else?” It is true dairy farms operate seven days a week and some farms, my own included, are starting to run “five on, two off” rosters. Previously, we’d run the common “11 on, three off” roster.

Though that may seem Victorian, it was only the essentials like milking and feeding that were done on weekends. You may be interested in my experiences in the first season I’ve run them.

To do my role as Federated Farmers’ Dairy chair justice, I need a good team to take care of the farm. This means better-than-average staff so “five on, two off” rosters seemed to be a way to make our farm attractive to the staff I both want and need. . .


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