Rural round-up

17/10/2020

Farmer = people that farm – Dr Mark Ferguson:

Growing up on our family farm in the Victoria Mallee, I had four fantastic role models, Mum and Dad on one side of the dam, and Dad’s parents, Mama and Pa on the other.

Pa had suffered a blood-clot in his leg and lost his leg from above the knee when I was very young so my only memories are of him on crutches or in a wheelchair.

That, of course, did not stop him from driving tractors, feeding sheep and the like, but he did rely on Mama to help him get these jobs done. Mum and Dad both worked off farm at various times to make ends meet. With this combination, making our farm tick was a real partnership of the four of them and, as soon as we were old enough to be useful, the three of us boys. There were a number of harvests where Mum drove the truck to town to deliver the grain while Dad was harvesting and Mama and Pa shifted field bins and augers etc. to keep everything moving. Although a generation has ticked over and it is now my brother Tim and his family farming with Mum and Dad, this team effort is what continues on the farm today. I never thought of it at the time, but looking back I do, I wonder whether Mum and Mama thought of themselves as farmers or farmers wives? . .

Environmental, business performance focus of study – Yvonne O’Hara:

All systems are go” for DairyNZ, AgResearch and the Southern Dairy Hub’s new participatory research project.

Planning had been under way for 12 months, and including looking for farmers to be part of the study.

“There was a bit of chequered start selecting farms as we couldn’t go out to do the interviews because of Covid-19, but all systems are go now,” DairyNZ senior scientist Dawn Dalley said. . . 

Lewis Road Creamery sold to NZ investment fund :

Southern Pastures, the country’s biggest farmland investment fund, has bought the dairy brand Lewis Road Creamery for an undisclosed sum.

At the same time Lewis Road’s founder and chief executive Peter Cullinane has announced he would step down from his roles at the company.

“It’s been an incredible journey that started with a simple idea at my kitchen table. To now see the brand mature safely in the hands of investors who are farmers of such integrity and quality is a fantastic conclusion,” he said.

The fund had progressively purchased shares in the company since 2017 when it bought an initial 25 percent to help fund the company’s expansion overseas. . .

Commission consults on draft report on Fonterra’s 2020/21 Milk Price Manual:

The Commerce Commission today released its draft report on its annual review of Fonterra’s Farmgate Milk Price Manual for the 2020/21 dairy season.

This year’s review focused on the changes Fonterra has made to the Manual. These include amending the requirement for an independent reviewer to assess certain aspects of the milk price calculation, and the introduction of the ability to apply the outcome of a ‘Within-Period Review’ to the year in which the review is undertaken.

We consider the ‘Within-Period Review’ is inconsistent with the efficiency dimension of the purpose of the base milk price monitoring regime under the Act. The introduction of the ‘Within-Period Review’ rule could give rise to the replacement of benchmark inputs with current actual inputs. This may remove an incentive for Fonterra to beat a benchmark in the year of review. . . 

New Zealand commits to more women in the meat industry as inaugural gender global figures released:

New Zealand is committed to getting more women into the meat sector with new research showing women account for only 36 per cent of the industry’s global workforce.

The independent report, Gender Representation in the Meat Sector 2020, commissioned by Meat Business Women, shows women are under-represented at every level above junior positions, holding just 14 per cent of board-level director roles and just five per cent of chief executive roles.

The study also identifies ‘broken rungs’ in the career ladder that prevent women in the meat sector from advancing to more senior roles. It suggests women find it easier to pursue careers in marketing, finance, human resources, research & development and quality fields, however those disciplines rarely act as stepping stones into the most senior positions. . .

International Rural Women’s Day recognises women are taking on key roles in agriculture but still face challenges – Josh Becker and Amelia Bernasconi:

Trailblazing rural women are taking on key leadership roles in agriculture, but ongoing barriers in the classroom and on the farm have held back diversity gains.

Leading the nation’s peak agriculture body and its members through a pandemic is not something Fiona Simson has done alone, but something she has been a driving force of.

After growing up on a farm near Armidale in the New South Wales New England region, Ms Simson led a corporate career before turning to local government. . . 

 


Rural round-up

25/06/2020

Imports still vital – ag contractors – David Anderson:

Despite eagerness from out-of-work Kiwis, the ag contracting industry will still need to continue importing experienced, overseas workers for some time yet.

“These locals need to be trained and won’t have the skills to drive the big, complex machinery for a while, so we’ll need to carry on importing our Irish and UK guys,” says Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) president David Kean.

His comments follow two expos, held this month, to promote the sector, which saw rural contractors ‘blown away’ by the turnout with a number starting to recruit locally to fill vacancies. He says the Queenstown and Te Anau expos saw more than 160 people through the doors.

However, Kean says ag contractors will still need to bring in some skilled machinery operators from overseas for the spring/summer season – as few new recruits will have developed sufficient skills to drive the more complex agricultural machines. . .

Hawke’s Bay not in the clear after drought despite brilliant rain :

Rainfall in drought-hit Hawke’s Bay was good news for farmers across the region but the impact of the long dry spell will be with them for the season.

Despite “brilliant rain” over the past week many farmers were still running short of stock feed, Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay president Jim Galloway said.

“Most farmers are well down on the stock they would normally carry. They are very short of feed and every day they’re looking at what they have to do or what they can do to get through.” . . 

Making good use of a crisis – Sudesh Kissun:

One of New Zealand’s largest dairy farmers says the Covid-19 pandemic presents the country an opportunity to rethink its approach to on-farm sustainability.

Southern Pastures Ltd believes more legislation isn’t the answer to sustainability challenges facing the sector and farmers should be part of the solution to climate change rather than being labelled as villains.

Future generations will have to carry the huge economic burden of Covid-19 recovery.

Southern Pastures executive chairman Prem Maan says the last thing we want is to load them with additional climate and environmental costs as well. . . 

Fonterra to pay farmers more for sustainable, high value milk:

Fonterra farmers producing sustainable, high quality milk will be eligible for a new payment, as Fonterra announces important changes to the way it pays farmers for their milk.

From 1 June 2021, Fonterra is introducing a Co-operative Difference Payment of up to 10 cents per kilogram of milk solids (kgMS) if the farm meets the Co-op’s on-farm sustainability and value targets. It’s part of the Co-op’s strategy to add value to New Zealand milk and responds to increasing demand from customers here and around the world for sustainably-produced dairy. The payment will be funded out of the Farmgate Milk Price.

“The total Farmgate Milk Price will remain the same across the Co-operative, but the amount that each individual farm is paid will vary depending on their contribution under The Co-operative Difference, in addition to the other variables, like fat and protein, which affect the amount that’s paid,” says Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell. . . 

Colin Hurst elected as Fed Farmers arable chairperson:

The new Chairperson of the Federated Farmers Arable Industry Group, Colin Hurst, brings wide experience and an acknowledged reputation for hard work, tenacity and leadership to the role.

Colin, the 2019 ‘Arable Farmer of the Year’, was elected at the group’s AGM on Monday [June 22] for a three-year term.  He replaces Karen Williams, who is Vice-President elect of Federated Farmers of New Zealand.

As well as following his interest in science and innovation driving improved production and a lighter environmental footprint, Colin is also keen to lift the profile of the arable sector among consumers and fellow farmers.   Sales of arable production and spending generated by the industry contributed $863 million to GDP in 2018.

“Most people know we produce cereal grains used in bread and a host of other staples, and all the malting barley needed by our brewers, but we also grow the pasture seeds essential to our livestock farmers, not to mention brassicas and other feed crops, and seed production for domestic and international markets,” Colin says. . . 

Climate change: planting trees ‘can do more harm than good’ – Matt McGrath:

Rather than benefiting the environment, large-scale tree planting may do the opposite, two new studies have found.

One paper says that financial incentives to plant trees can backfire and reduce biodiversity with little impact on carbon emissions.

A separate project found that the amount of carbon that new forests can absorb may be overestimated.

The key message from both papers is that planting trees is not a simple climate solution. . . 


Rural round-up

11/02/2020

All that’s missing is the workforce :

Mid-Canterbury farmer Ryan Esler enjoys an enviable lifestyle – working in the scenic foothills beneath Mt Hutt, jet boating on the Rakaia River, and fishing for fresh salmon.

But it’s becoming harder to attract young people to a career in farming and he believes the industry has a perception problem which needs to be addressed.

“If you start looking at petri dish meat, you’d think farming is doomed but there’s a lot of scope for a lot of different directions.

“When you look at the marketing of wool and merino, the range of products being made now is absolutely incredible. . .

Dry hits hard – Colin Williscroft:

As dry starts to ratchet up the pressure on farmers Central Hawke’s Bay farmer John Waldin has been lucky enough to get some of his stock away to the works but there’s still more that needs to go.

Waldin was pleased to get a call confirming he will be able to send 240 lamb to the works.

Though he’s experienced conditions just as dry as now on his Ashley Clinton property Waldin can’t remember a time when he’s seen such a shortage of grass.

He normally aims to kill lambs at a carcase weight of 18kg-plus but a couple of weeks ago he decided there was not enough feed so drafted at 15kg-plus, with anything lighter likely to be worth more as stores. . . 

Is grass-only still feasible in New Zealand farming? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Nobody, least of all farmers, wants animals to be hungry – but is grass-only best? Dr Jacqueline Rowarth investigates.

Drought is affecting the country. Holiday makers have been able to enjoy warm temperatures and sunny barbecues, but towns and cities are already on restrictions for watering gardens and washing cars, particularly in the north and east of the North Island.

The situation for farmers is different – it is animals and crops that are the focus.

Farmers in some areas have access to irrigation, but most don’t, and they are increasingly worried about when rain might come. . .

Aussies get a taste of Kiwi – Tony Leggett:

Two enterprising young Australian rural professionals received an amazing insight into New Zealand agriculture during a two-week whistle-stop tour of the country last November.

The pair were joint winners of the 2019 Zanda McDonald Award which is presented annually by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP), a group of 150 larger scale and influential farm owners and agribusiness professionals from both sides of the Tasman.

The award is open to anyone under 35 and winners receive $2000 in prize money plus a flying trip around properties and agribusinesses on both sides of the Tasman, hosted by members of the PPP group. . . 

 

U.S. dairy subsidies equal 73 percent of producer returns, says new report :

Comparing government support for Canadian versus American dairy farmers is not a simple black and white process. While Canada’s dairy sector operates under a regulated supply management system, the U.S. government’s support for its dairy farmers is less direct.

Support, in its various forms, equaled 73 percent of U.S. dairy farmers’ market returns in 2015, according to a report published by a Canadian trade consulting firm on Thursday.

The 588-page study by Grey, Clark, Shih and Associates — commissioned by Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) — says the American government contributed around $22.2 billion in direct and indirect subsidies to the dairy sector in 2015. . . 

2019 GB potato crop fifth lowest on record :

Total potato production in Great Britain for the 2019 crop has been estimated to be the fifth lowest on record, according to latest figures.

AHDB estimates the figure to be 5.10Mt, which is an increase of 182Kt from last season, but 7% below the five-year average (2014-2018, 5.49Mt).

While total GB production is 4 percent more than last season, it still comes in at the fifth lowest on record.

The 2019 estimated average net yield is 45.6t/ha, up 3.9t/ha from last season and 2% below the five year average (2014-2018, 46.6t/ha). . . 

 


Rural round-up

27/03/2019

Westland’s biggest shareholders sit on the fence over Yili offer:

Westland Milk’s biggest shareholders — investment fund Southern Pastures and the state-owned Landcorp — are biding their time over Yili’s takeover offer.

Hokitika-based Westland said this week that it had signed a conditional agreement for the sale of the co-op, which will see the Chinese dairy giant pay farmer-suppliers $3.41 a share.

Westland will seek shareholder approval for the proposed transaction at a special shareholder meeting, expected to be held in early July.

Southern Pastures, which has former All Black Graeme Mourie as one of its principals, owns 5.5 per cent of the co-op, which would be worth $13.6 million under the offer.  . . 

Nait a difficult beast but NZ ‘had no chance’ against M. bovis without it – Esther Taunton:

Cattle on 150 farms have been checked against national animal tracing records as part of efforts to wipe out the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis but just one property passed muster.

Dr Alix Barclay, the Ministry for Primary Industries’ intelligence manager for the M. bovis response, said only one property had achieved a 100 per cent match with its National Animal Identification and Tracing (Nait) account.

The disappointing result highlighted the importance of making changes to the system, Barclay said. . . 

Hayward family cultivate success in South Canterbury by seizing the day – Samesh Mohanlall:

Farming operations flourish on hard work, seizing the chances that come your way and having people that are trustworthy around, the family of a successful South Canterbury venture say. 

Geoff Hayward and his wife Joy, who own and lease 1700 hectares of land for their sheep, beef and cropping operation across the Timaru district, told about 50 visitors to their Mt Horrible farm from the Beef + Lamb annual meeting on Thursday, that the key to their expansion is taking opportunities that come their way. . . 

Pitching in to protect mudfish:

They may be tiny, slimy and reclusive, but the Canterbury mudfish are well worth protecting. 

Kōwaro, as they’re named in te reo Māori, are a treasured species for local iwi Ngāi Tahu and having more of them around helps protect other freshwater natives such as kōura (crayfish) and kākahi (mussels).

Unfortunately, they’re also rare and endangered. 

Fonterra is providing funding to Environment Canterbury to help them implement innovative technology in what is the first project of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. . . 

A2 names China CEO –  Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co has appointed Li Xiao as chief executive of its greater China operations.

Li was previously president of the Kids Entertainment Division of Wanda Group, a Chinese multinational which owns the Hoyts cinema group. He starts in the A2 Milk role at the end of April, based in Shanghai, and will join A2’s senior leadership team. He will report to the firm’s Asia-Pacific chief executive Peter Nathan and managing director Jayne Hrdlicka. . . 

Patience needed for Fonterra’s streamlining, says FNZC’s Dekker – Paul McBeth:

 (BusinessDesk) – Farmers and investors will need to be patient with Fonterra Cooperative Group’s overhaul of its business, which sometime-critic First NZ Capital analyst Arie Dekker says is moving in the right direction.

The cooperative’s board is working through a review of the business which has seen several assets put on the market to help cut the milk processor’s debt levels, and has signalled more divestments are coming. . . 

Miscanthus – the magic plant:

In a Rural Delivery television programme last year Prof Steve Wratten of Lincoln University described Miscanthus as a “magic plant”. Although there was a degree of poetic licence in that statement, it is very understandable why he described Miscanthus in that way. But there are no magicians involved. Miscanthus is a truly remarkable plant that has so many advantages and options for commercial use that people who hear about it tend to think “This is too good to be true!”.

So they ignore it. The phenomenal success of Miscanthus therefore actually detracts from securing serious interest in both growing and using it. Contrary to people’s initial reaction, what seems like hype, is in fact true. . . 

It’s time to strengthen trespass laws:

Activist trespassers are making a joke of our legal system – carrying out brazen invasions of private farms and walking away with a slap on the wrist, only to reoffend. It’s time for governments to act.

In recent months we’ve witnessed a spate of farm invasions by activists who think their opinions place them above the law.

These farm intruders are entering private premises, often in the dead of night, often while streaming live on the internet – all just a stones’ throw from where farmers and their families are sleeping.

Police and the court system have proven powerless to help, with those caught walking away with fines equivalent to a parking ticket. . . 


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