Rural round-up

February 16, 2020

COVID-19 is a black swan – Keith Woodford:

COVID-19 is the black swan event that no-one saw coming. There is no precedent and so historical models tell us very little as to either the global health implications or the global economic implications. Much of the commentary we are reading is both facile and fallacious, often tailored to fit prior perspectives, and in other cases based on fundamental ignorance.

My own take on events is that the global outcomes are going to be major and that COVID-19 is going to be with us as a global black swan throughout all of this year. Export-focused agri-food will be less affected than most sectors.

For those not familiar with the term ‘black swan’, it is a random event, unable to be given a risk probability in advance, that changes many things. The associated hypothesis is that most of the mega-events that truly change the world are black swans. . .

Blips give trade hiccups – Annette Scott:

Food producers were in a strong position with high expectations of improved global growth heading into 2020 but unexpected disruption has put paid to that, ANZ agribusiness economist Susan Kilsby says.

In a keynote address at the Blinc Innovation 2020 Agri Outlook workshop at Lincoln Kilsby cited coronavirus and its impact on China as the biggest disrupter.

“In 2020 so far we have had missiles in the Middle East, drought, fire, flooding, Trump acquitted of impeachment, Brexit happened and the coronavirus outbreak. . . 

Value in our shared values – Sarah Perriam:

Whose values really matter the most? The food producers’ because they intimately understand the science and challenges the most and should be trusted. Or the consumers who, without the producer, wouldn’t have a business? But then what if we actually share the same values?

This week in Sarah’s Country we hear from Kate Acland, co-owner of Mt Somers Station and a diverse range of value-added products shares her views on the importance of centring our businesses around values.

Sarah Perriam, the host of Sarah’s Country, is this week joined by guest co-host Elizabeth Soal who is the chief executive of Irrigation New Zealand. . . 

Growers want a fair deal – Sudesh Kissun:

It’s been a busy 12 months for Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association (PVGA) first female president Kylie Faulkner.

Since taking over the reins at PVGA, Faulkner has been involved with two key pieces of legislation proposed by the Government: national policy statements on highly productive land and water. Land and water are the backbone of PGVA’s 230 growers and their operations.

They are no minnows when it comes to food production; a recent Deloitte report says while Pukekohe accounts for just 3.8% of the country’s land under fruit and vegetable production, it contributes to 26% of the nation’s value of production of vegetables, and a lesser proportion of fruit. . .

The Garden of Eatin:

Ross Nolly is looking forward to writing ‘maggot farmer’ on forms asking for his occupation.

The former butcher, now writer and photographer, has a small lifestyle block in Taranaki where he tries to live as self-sufficiently as possible.

He hunts for meat, has a food forest, grows his own vegetables, keeps ducks and chickens and farms maggots to feed them. . .

Getting the balance right – Colin Miller:

Many sunsets ago, I learnt from one of the older father figures in my life the ageless truth that, “Balance is the key to life”.

Six simple words easily put together; quick and easy to read, but so much harder to live! I well remember thinking at the time; ‘Huh … whatever is that all about?’ I didn’t get it at all back then. If it sounds a little patronising for you at the moment, then how about this old adage from yesteryear – “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.

Yep, balance is the key to life; these six simple words are surely packed with wisdom we humans need to hear. I have seen too many examples of exactly this gone wrong; and sometimes up close and personal with good friends and family. The end results have at times been tragic. . .


Rural round-up

January 11, 2020

‘Tragic start’ to 2020: Six deaths on NZ farms in six days – Eleisha Foon:

Six people have died in workplace incidents on New Zealand farms in six days this year

The latest death came today when one person died in a quad bike crash on a Wharepuhunga farm, south of Cambridge.

Another death earlier this week included a 67-year-old man who died when the tractor he was driving rolled down a bank at the Goldfields Mining Centre near Cromwell on Wednesday. . .

Farmers take the lead – Sandra Taylor:

Two Rangitikei farmers are driving a bottoms-up approach to improving water quality in their region by encouraging and empowering farmers and their communities to work collectively to address water quality issues.

Roger Dalrymple, who farms Waitatapia Station, a large-scale mixed cropping operation near Bulls and Taihape sheep and beef farmer Mark Chrystall, were instrumental in setting up the Rangitikei Rivers Catchment Collective (RRCC) two years ago. This group acts as an umbrella organisation for community catchment groups based around three major river systems in the region. Collectively these groups involve at least 250 farmers and numerous other community stakeholders.

Roger, who like Mark is a passionate environmentalist, says over the past 100 years, everything about environmental management has been driven from the top down and it is a model that has failed. . . 

Trade Secrets makes its predictions for 2020 – Alan Beattie :

Happy new year and all that. Now, where we were? Ah yes, indefinite global trade tension and Brexit.

Making predictions is the done thing around this time of year, and we’re not unknown for sticking our necks out. So in today’s newsletter we give you ours (or at least this particular writer’s) for events in the trade world.

We plead in mitigation that predicting trade politics, particularly the timing of events, is difficult at the best of times given the interminable bureaucratic processes involved. And these days we have Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, possessing respectively no consistent decision-making criteria at all and a genius for unacknowledged U-turns. Also, Iran. Sometimes it feels like you might as well be betting on raindrops running down a window. Be kind to us if some of these forecasts turn out wrong. Our chart of the day looks at something which definitely did happen, namely the slump in trade between South Korea and Japan last year. . . 

Students push rural health work – Colin Williscroft:

Nursing students joined medical students late last year on a tour designed to promote rural health careers to pupils in rural schools.

Third-year Wellington nursing students Rachael Rowe, Lagisi Wirangi, Katrin Scott, Laura Winter and Mickey Walker took part in a five-day trip through Wairarapa and Central Hawke’s Bay to Napier and back to encourage country children to consider medical and health careers.

It was the first time nursing students took part in the tour, Whitireia Polytech nursing programme manager Leanne Pool said.

“It was a fantastic opportunity for our students to promote nursing as a career choice to young people.” . . 

Reading to Reporoa – Sophie Barnes:

When Alexandra Lond began studying English Literature in 2012, the thought that, seven years later she’d be in Reporoa, New Zealand, managing an 800-cow herd would never have crossed her mind.

English woman Alex’s route into farming began while studying at Reading University. She befriended agricultural students during hockey practice, after hearing all the farming chatter “made me want to know more.”

A friend put her in touch with Sally Manford, of Hinxdon Farm, in Kent, and volunteered her way into a job.

“I spent two months shadowing the milker, working for free, before heading to my day job in town,” she says. . . 

Sticky wicket for honey producers – Richard Rennie:

Honey producers face a season of lean returns as prices plunge to well below break-even, leaving some having to decide if this year’s crop is even worth harvesting.

Beekeeping Incorporated president Jane Lorimer said prices for bulk honey have dropped to $3.50 to $4 a kilo, well down on the $6-$7 a kilo needed to break even on production costs.

Lorimer, a Waikato producer, said she has been lucky also having income generated through kiwifruit pollination, which will be a valuable side income. . . 

DairyNZ to host Farmers Forum

DairyNZ will hold a series of farmer meetings over the next two months to help participants better understand what is driving changes in the sector and how to respond.

The Farmers Forum 2020 programme kicks off in Northland on February 18. Events will follow in Waikato, Southland, Taranaki and Canterbury.

The events are free DairyNZ levy players and their staff. DairyNZ says farmers will get updated on regional and national policy development, latest science and an overview of the industry body’s activities. . .

Leading livestock photographer Ben Simpson shares his favourite photos – Lucy Kinbacher:

Have you ever seen a bull dance?

If you’ve got a paddock of stud sires, chances are you have. But it isn’t until you look behind the lens of Ben Simpson’s camera that you truly notice the ballroom spectacular taking place.

Dancing with Bulls is one of the many moments captured by this globally recognised photographer that the average human would probably fail to see.

When Ben was encouraged by a mate to buy his first Pentax camera while living in America, little did he know it would shape the rest of his life. . . 


Rural round-up

September 3, 2019

FMA looking into Fonterra’s asset write downs and financial performance following complaint – John Anthony:

The Financial Markets Authority is seeking information from Fonterra after receiving a complaint expressing concerns about the dairy cooperative’s expected record annual loss and asset write downs.

In early August Fonterra said it expected to make a loss for the 2019 financial year of between $590 million and $675m due to asset write downs of up to $860m.

A Financial Markets Authority (FMA) spokesman said it recently received a complaint about Fonterra’s financial reporting, and its audited financial statements over the last few years.

The complaint came from shareholder Colin Armer, who said he and his wife owned 10 million shares. . . 

Passion for sheep runs deep – Sally Rae:

She is known simply as “Sheepish Sophie”.

In the world of social media, Sophie Barnes – who has a strong following – is more well-known by that moniker.

Most recently, the young English shepherd and lamb-rearing specialist has been documenting her travels around the South Island with partner Dorrien Neeson and six dogs, working on various stations and farms.

At present stationed in the Waitaki Valley, Ms Barnes (27) admitted she had tried to find other hobbies apart from sheep farming and genetics but for her they did not exist . . 

The battle for trust – Peter Burke:

With distrust growing in consumers, even for science, gaining their trust is now more valuable to win than ever.

Tim Hunt, the head of RaboResearch Food and Agribusiness in Australasia, says trust is becoming more complex to succeed in and more valuable to win because of what is happening in New Zealand’s markets.

He says in emerging markets, such as China and Southeast Asia, consumers are placing enormous value on the safety of products, whereas in western markets they increasingly value sustainability, animal welfare, fairness and provenance.

Five years of Water Accord show dairy farmers doing their bit to improve water quality:

One of New Zealand’s biggest hands-on environmental efforts has created a wave of change on dairy farms across the country and is contributing to progress in improving water quality.

Today, the Sustainable Dairy: Water Accord farmers and partners announced their achievements to date, including:

  • fencing off dairy cattle from 24,249km (98.3%) of significant dairy accord waterways (waterways which are more than one metre wide and more than 30cm deep). That’s the equivalent of nearly 12 road trips from Cape Reinga to Bluff. Excluding stock from waterways is one of the most beneficial ways to improve water quality
  • installing bridges and culverts on 100% of stock crossing points dairy cows use
  • preparing 10,396 nutrient budgets – up from 6,400 budgets in the first year of the Accord. Nutrient budgets allow farmers to carefully plan nutrient applications and manage nutrient losses
  • assessing 100% of Accord farms for effluent management practices – this process checks that farms have appropriate infrastructure and systems in place to manage effluent
  • developing riparian management plans to protect water quality on 52% of Accord farms with waterways. . . 

Taking the bad with the good in dairy industry report:

Federated Farmers congratulates the dairy industry on another robust environmental report, which shows there are some good things to celebrate and some things that need further work.  

Today’s release of the now five year’s running Sustainable Dairy: Water Accord report shows there are still areas that need work, but overall dairy farmers should be proud of what they’ve achieved in a very short timeframe.

Amongst those matters that need further work are the 6.15% of significant non-compliance with effluent management requirements.

But overall Federated Farmers wants to give a big positive shout-out to what hard working farmers have achieved for the environment in the last 12 months. . .

Lamb export prices spring to a new high :

Export prices for lamb reached their highest point in the June 2019 quarter, Stats NZ said today.

This level is the highest since the series began in 1982, and follows steady increases from the second half of 2016.

“Both lamb and beef prices rose this quarter, up 4.7 percent and 5.3 percent, respectively, on the back of strong overseas demand,” overseas trade statistics manager Darren Allan said. . . 

Burgers and climate: the real beef

I have two burgers. One is a beef burger from McDonald’s on the left and the other on the right is a Beyond Meat, plant-protein burger from A&W.

You’ve been told by companies, groups and the media to choose; to eat less meat because one is better for the environment, and we’ve been led to believe that by picking one over the other, we’re doing our part in climate change and being more environmentally-friendly.

What if I told you that both burgers are doing their part and all agriculture is part of the solution, not the problem? What if I told you it’s not one versus the other when it comes to climate change? What if I told you there is more to the story than these companies are sharing? . . 


Rural round-up

July 11, 2019

New Zealand scientists lead the way to global breakthrough in methane reduction – Kate Nicol-Williams:

An international research programme led by New Zealand scientists has revealed a breakthrough in their fight to reduce agricultural greenhouse emissions.

After two years of work, researchers from AgResearch and Otago University, along with researchers from Australia, the United States and Japan, have discovered which bacteria in a sheep’s first stomach produce hydrogen as part of the digestion process, and the specific enzymes inside the bacteria that are responsible.

They’ve also found which organisms use the hydrogen as a food source in the production of methane. . .

Visiting expert showcases footrot vaccine – Sally Rae:

Footrot is a nasty and complex disease.

Estimated as a $10 million problem for New Zealand’s sheep industry, the infection caused major changes to the hoof, resulting in lameness and loss of production.

Dr Om Dhungyel from the Sydney School of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney has devoted much of his career to footrot research.

Last week, Dr Dhungyel was in Otago, talking to farmers about footrot and a vaccine he has helped develop which is now on the market. . .

Winter grazing must not compromise animal health and welfare:

The New Zealand Veterinary Association says there is no place in modern farming for winter grazing practices that compromise animal health and welfare.

“The time has come to transition away from winter grazing practices that result in poor animal welfare for livestock,” says NZVA Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Helen Beattie.

Intensive winter grazing is commonplace and can lead to poor animal welfare and environmental damage, particularly during prolonged periods of wet weather. . .

Winner of 2019 Nelson Young Fruitfrower announced:

Jono Sutton has won the Nelson Young Fruitgrower of the Year for 2019.

He will go on to represent the fruit and vegetable sectors at the Young Grower of the Year competition in Tauranga on 1-2 October, where contestants will compete for their share of $40,000 worth of prizes.

Nelson Young Fruitgrower of the Year Coordinator, Richard Clarkson, says his focus has always been on education. . .

Retailers warn of an egg shortage, hike in prices:

Gilmour’s, the country’s largest supplier of wholesale food and beverages, is warning that the price of eggs is set to increase and the breakfast favourite may be harder to come by as egg farmers move to meet changes to the law.

In an email sent to customers today, the retailer owned by supermarket giant Foodstuffs, said “huge investment” was required by the industry to meet the Animal Welfare Code of Practice for Layer Hens which in turn would drive up the price of eggs. 

“There is currently uncertainty around supply as farms struggle to gain resource consent for new production whilst other suppliers exit the supermarket sector and/or industry altogether.  . .

Mulan trailer features Waitaki beauty:

The majestic grandeur of the Waitaki district is on display in the first glimpse of Disney’s live-action remake of the animated classic Mulan.

On Sunday, Walt Disney Studios released the first trailer for the film, filmed in part in the Ahuriri Valley, near Omarama, last year.

About 800 to 900 crew were in the Mackenzie Basin for about a month in spring.

The film was shot by Whale Rider director New Zealander Niki Caro and stars Chinese-American actress Yifei Liu in the titular role. . .


Rural round-up

June 19, 2019

Oh DIRA – Elbow Deep:

As a Fonterra supplying dairy farmer you have every right to be disappointed with the release of the Government’s changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

Fonterra will still have to supply raw milk at cost to new, presumably foreign owned processors who can then export value-added product in direct competition with the co-op, all without having to establish their own supply chain.

Fonterra will still have to accept new milk under the open entry provision, albeit with a few tweaks around new conversions and environmental concerns, which is worrying enough, but wait until you delve deeper: the flawed reasoning behind keeping this provision is MPI’s  belief Fonterra can already control supply through the milk price. How this belief persists when legislation exists specifically to prevent milk price manipulation is beyond me, and this is where my disappointment turns to anger. . .

Dairy champion: a balancing act – Ross Nolly:

Dairy Woman of the Year Trish Rankin is a primary school teacher, full-time farmer and a passionate environmentalist among other things. Ross Nolly reports.

When Trish Rankin heard her name announced as the winner of the 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award she was completely taken by surprise. 

She has always followed her passions but never set out to strategically target an award.

Entering the 2013 Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards and winning the 2016 Northland share farmer competition set the ball rolling for her. It brought about a realisation that people, many in the higher echelon of the dairy industry, are interested in what she has to say.  . .

Pets or steak? The inside story of a bovine brouhaha in the ‘burbs – Alice Neville:

An urban farm in Auckland has been raising cows for meat for years. This time, they decided to involve the community in the process – but the backlash was so intense, the plan was canned. Alice Neville talks to those involved about what went down, and what we can learn from the saga. 

Asprawling, hippy-esque bucolic paradise surrounded by multimillion-dollar white villas, Kelmarna Gardens is a bit of an anomaly at the epicentre of one of Auckland’s most bougie neighbourhoods.

Covering four and a half acres of council land on the Grey Lynn/Ponsonby/Herne Bay border, it’s a city farm and organic community garden headed by a trust and mainly run by volunteers. In recent years, local chefs have got behind the gardens: you’ll see Kelmarna produce name-checked on menus all over town. . . 

The foul-smelling bugs threatening NZ wine – Farrah Hancock:

Hold your pinot noir a little closer tonight. If brown marmorated stink bugs establish themselves, New Zealand’s red wine could taste unpleasant. Italian stink bug expert Professor Claudio Ioriatti visited New Zealand and shared lessons from Italy’s smelly bug invasion with local growers and scientists.

Tasting notes for New Zealand’s red wines could look very different if brown marmorated stink bugs establish themselves here.

New Zealand Winegrowers biosecurity and emergency response manager Ed Massey said stink bugs could cause a loss in production as well as a serious quality issue.

“They’re called stink bugs for a reason.” . . 

Organic product to tackle selenium deficiency in soils – Chris Balemi:

A new generation of organic selenium supplementation will be introduced into New Zealand this year, helping to solve NZ soil’s issue of low selenium.

Selenium is an essential trace element for ruminants and required for growth, fertility and the prevention of mastitis and calf scours. However, selenium deficiency is prevalent in soils NZ-wide. This presents an issue every farm manager would benefit from understanding better.

A new generation of organic selenium supplementation (called Excential Selenium 4000) will be introduced into NZ this year. It’s an important development because it will greatly improve on previous options for selenium supplementation on the farm.. . 

Yes, eating meat affects the environment, but cows are not killing the climate – Frank M. Mitloehner:

As the scale and impacts of climate change become increasingly alarming, meat is a popular target for action. Advocates urge the public to eat less meat to save the environment. Some activists have called for taxing meat to reduce consumption of it.

A key claim underlying these arguments holds that globally, meat production generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. However, this claim is demonstrably wrong, as I will show. And its persistence has led to false assumptions about the linkage between meat and climate change.

My research focuses on ways in which animal agriculture affects air quality and climate change. In my view, there are many reasons for either choosing animal protein or opting for a vegetarian selection. However, foregoing meat and meat products is not the environmental panacea many would have us believe. And if taken to an extreme, it also could have harmful nutritional consequences. . . 

Trump’s $16 billion farm bailout criticised at the WTO – Bryce Baschuk:

The European Union joined China and five other World Trade Organization members in criticizing the Trump administration’s $16 billion assistance program for U.S. farmers, indicating the bailout may violate international rules.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest farmer assistance program could exceed America’s WTO subsidy commitments and unduly influence U.S. planting decisions, according to a document published on the WTO website June 17. .  .

 


Grass Roots

June 15, 2019

Tangaroa Walker reckons he is living the best life.

The Southland contract milker, originally from Tauranga, was the inaugural winner of the Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award in 2012.

As well as diligently working his way up the dairy ladder towards farm ownership, Tangaroa owns a local gym, is a keen rugby player and manages an educational Facebook page.

Tangaroa is one half of a new series by RNZ’s Country Life farming programme, following young farmers over a year, showing what they do – their highs and lows. . . 

At Omarama Station in Otago, Sophie Barnes is mustering merinos and crutching lambs.

Originally from the UK, Sophie reckons she “has been fleeced”. Her love affair with sheep began nine years ago and has led the 27-year-old to New Zealand and now she’s a roving shepherd with her New Zealand boyfriend and their six dogs. . . 

You can read more about Tangaroa here and Sophie here.


Rural round-up

May 4, 2019

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

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

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

New Zealand agricultural trade profile

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

Mum, teacher, farmer, winner – Annette Scott:

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

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

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

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

Huge pond enhances efficiency – Toni Williams:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opportunities Party identifies safe and valuable use of genetic technology:

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

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

Summer Cervena 2019 campaign launched in Europe:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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