Rural round-up

September 29, 2019

Meetings show farm frustration – Colin Williscroft:

High farmer turnouts at meetings trying to explain the Government’s freshwater proposals show the degree of frustration the sector is feeling, Central Hawke’s Bay farmer Sam Robinson says.

Robinson, who attended a meeting a meeting in Napier that attracted 300 to 400 farmers and growers said he and just about everyone else there do not disagree with the proposals’ objectives. It is the approach causing frustration among farmers.

Frustration was also the overwhelming feeling at a meeting in Carterton, targeted specifically at farmers and growers, Farmers Weekly columnist Alan Emerson said. . .

Fonterra faces painful reality – Stephen Bell:

Fonterra has confirmed a farmgate milk price of $6.35/kg MS for last season while recording a net loss after tax of $605 million, an improvement on the forecast loss of up to $675m.

It had sales revenue of $20.1 billion, down 2% with operating expenses of $2.3b, down 7% and capital spending of $600m, down 30%.

Th co-op is reshuffling its management team with its global operations chief operating officer Robert Spurway the only casualty. Fonterra said he chose to leave to return to directly running a company.

Chief executive Miles Hurrell said 2019 was incredibly tough for the co-op but also the year Fonterra made decisions to set it up for future success. . .

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell: ,I knew 100% what I was getting in to’ :

Financial results media scrum over, two interviews with journalists down and a swag more scheduled, Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell’s baby face is starting to take on some harder edges.

It’s been a marathon couple of months leading to Thursday’s formal presentation of the dairy cooperative’s grim annual results, tempered only slightly by the simultaneous unveiling of a bright and shiny new business strategy.

There are only so many times a man can smile while saying “mea culpa New Zealand”. . .

From city to country: Award-winning shepherd kicks career goals.

It’s a brisk winter’s night as Kristy Roa and her teammates jog onto a floodlit sports field in Gisborne.

The 20-year-old shepherd heads for the nearest goal, pulling on a clean set of goalkeeper’s gloves as she goes.

A whistle sounds and it’s not long before a muddy soccer ball is hurtling towards the left corner of the goal. . .

Farmers look after rare mudfish – Toni Williams:

Arable farmer Ian Mackenzie and his wife Diana, opened their Eiffelton property in Mid Canterbury to Foundation for Arable Research’s Women In Arable group, to have a close up look at how farming and environmental protection can work hand in hand.

Mr Mackenzie, a third generation farmer on the Akaunui Farm site, spoke about the efforts to help protect the endangered mudfish which live in the farm’s Purakaunui Creek.

The Mackenzies, even after more than 25 years dealing with mudfish on farm, were still learning about the rare breed, as there were few people who knew a lot about them. . .

Dubbo to host life facilitator Viv Adcock who can talk to animals including livestock – Lucy Kinbacher:

A life facilitator who says she can talk to animals will visit Dubbo in October to offer livestock producers an opportunity to better understand their animals needs.

Sunshine Coast based woman Viv Adcock will visit the property of Merino sheep breeders, the Coddington family, from October 11 to 13 to talk to their animals about a range of topics including nutrition, handling and welfare. Her work is based on building a connection with animals, along with using body language, to perceive an animal’s behaviour.

Ms Adcock said often failure to fall pregnant, lack of production or low yields for either meat or fleece were signals of bigger problems. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 7, 2019

New tech boosts packhouse output – Richard Rennie:

While much has been made of the prospects for robots harvesting kiwifruit and other orchards, one packing company has invested heavily this season in robotic technology in the pack house. Apata Group chief executive Stuart Weston outlined to Richard Rennie some of the smarts behind the country’s most robotised pack house, and what it heralds for the industry.

This year’s kiwifruit harvest is enduring another season with dire predictions of labour shortages coming at least partly true. 

Most processing companies report an ongoing need for more staff, both pickers and in pack houses.  . . 

NZ Producers cheesed off with EU – Pam Tipa:

Trade expert Stephen Jacobi says he thinks New Zealand cheesemakers are rightly concerned about a European Union plan to protect the names of common cheeses.

It is a concern in the context of the EU-NZ free trade agreement negotiations, he says.

“The Europeans say they are not looking to penalise in any way the generic names,” Jacobi told Rural News. “They are saying they are only interested in the ones that have geographical connections.” . . 

Southland maternity like ‘Russian roulette’, midwife says – Tess Brunton:

Supplies mishaps are plaguing the Lumsden and Te Anau maternity hubs that were meant to be up and running seven weeks ago, adding to concerns over giving birth in the region.

RNZ has been told pure oxygen – which poses a danger to babies when administered over long periods – was delivered to the Lumsden Maternal and Child Hub, while the Te Anau hub is still waiting for more equipment.

The news is adding to continued concerns over the emergency hubs, which are only meant to be used when expecting mothers are unable to reach a primary birthing centre in time. . .

Rural mums need urgent action:

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker has again written to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after she promised to ‘take another look’ into the Lumsden Maternity Centre downgrade.

“I have written to the Prime Minister and asked for her findings as well as informing her of the second birth in the Lumsden area in just 11 days,” Mr Walker says.

“This could be a matter of life or death. All we have to do is look across the ditch to rural Queensland where since the downgrading of maternity services the death of babies in every 1000 is now at 23.3, compared with 6.1 in rural areas with obstetrics. . .

Farmers ticked off over NAIT ‘fluster cuck’ – Nigel Malthus:

Farmers are bristling over any suggestion they had been slack about re-registering their farm locations in National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) in time for moving day on June 1.

Every person in charge of animals must re-register their NAIT location following a recent upgrade to the system.

Yet only one week out from moving day, the Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor released figures showing that about half of all dairy farms – 8000 out of 15,000 – had yet to re-register. . . 

It’s the little things – Penny Clark-Hall:

What is it that we can do to earn and improve our Social Licence? So many people in the primary sector have asked me this lately and this was precisely what I was wanting to be able to give them from my Kellogg research.

The answer, while no one quick fix, isn’t big either. It’s lots of little things. They require bravery, honesty and accountability, but it’s not going to cost you the world, just time. A resource that I know is probably just as precious, if not more, to farmers than money.

So here is what my key recommendations are. . . 

Dairy a pig of a job – Stephen Bell:

Hold onto your hats folks it could be a wild ride in the dairy industry but without all the fun of the fair.

There are so many things going on here and abroad that will influence not just farmgate milk prices but also input and compliance costs and thus, most importantly profits.

On the face of it things are looking up for the new season with rural economists predicting a starting price somewhere north of $7/kg MS.

But Fonterra, on the back of narrowing its 2018-19 forecast to the bottom end of its range at $6.30 to $6.40/kg MS has given a wide range for this season of $6.25-$7.25. Though the economists are optimistic Fonterra has set the advance rate at only $3.80/kg MS.

And we still don’t know any detail for Fonterra’s new strategy but we can take it from chief executive Miles Hurrell’s comments accompanying the third quarter results that it won’t be plain sailing for a couple of years yet. . . 

Pigeon Valley fire aftermath: ‘Biggest recovery effort ever made‘- Katie Todd:

One of New Zealand’s largest recorded ‘tree salvages’ has been hailed a success in the aftermath of the Pigeon Valley fire.

About 10,000 tonnes of burnt pine trees are being plucked from the ground for use in Canterbury construction projects, Nelson housing developments and to prevent future fires in Tasman.

It comes despite an initial race against time for Tasman Pine Forests, that own about 60 percent or or 14 sqkm of the fire-affected land.

After the fire was out, crews were faced with the task of extracting trees of varying ages and heights, some slightly charred at the base and others scorched to the tips, before beetles and bugs could begin to break them down. . . 

National Lamb Day held where it all began – Sally Brooker:

National Lamb Day was celebrated on May 24 at the place where New Zealand’s frozen meat industry began 137 years ago – Totara Estate.

The historic farm just south of Oamaru prepared a shipment of lamb that arrived in Britain in pristine condition on May 24, 1882.

As Britain looked to its colonies to provide food for its surging population, wool prices here had collapsed by the end of the 1870s.

New Zealand’s huge sheep flocks were increasingly worthless, and the mutton was in such oversupply that it, too, was not valued. Britain represented a massive potential market, but getting the meat there before it went off was no small problem. . . 


Rural round-up

April 14, 2019

Owner of M. Bovis-infected farm who had to shoot newborn calves: ‘you just learn to grit your teeth and do it’ – Gerald Piddock:

Henk Smit could handle the bullet in the mail and the death threats.

It was when the dairy farmer had to shoot his newborn calves that the impact of Mycoplasma bovis finally hit him.

Looking back, he now believes it is something no dairy farmer should ever have to put themselves through.

“I think was a really bad call,” he says at his quiet Maungatautari property. “On the other farm, we had a contract milker and that sent him over the edge, killing the calves, and he tried to commit suicide in spring. . .

Changing the face of farming – Stephen Bell:

Alternative proteins and genomics could change the face of New Zealand agriculture, a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment report suggests.

But they come up against the brick wall of the country’s attitude to genetic engineering and editing.

Advances in genomics offer potential to speed up the development of crops and livestock with desirable and valuable traits that meet productivity, quality and environmental goals. . .

Waikato Mycoplasma bovis free after properties cleared to return to farming – Gerald Piddock:

Waikato is Mycoplasma bovis free – for now.

The country’s largest dairying region has no properties infected with the cattle disease after the Ministry for Primary Industries lifted the active property classifications on five Waikato farms in the past month.

But that status may change with six farms under a notice of direction (NOD) status and seven under surveillance.  NOD properties are those which have a high risk of being infected, but have yet to return a positive test. . .

Mega mast another reason to continue GE research:

Turning our backs on promising tools for predator control is a massive disservice to New Zealand’s native flora and fauna, Federated Farmers environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“The ‘mega mast’ in New Zealand’s forests this autumn presents a huge challenge to our pest control agencies and countless volunteers.

“The frequency of these exceptionally heavy tree seeding events is likely to increase with climate change, yet this coalition Government has called a halt on research on genetic engineering technologies.” . .

Veterinarians gear up to help farmers comply with new animal welfare regulations:

Veterinarians are gearing up to help farmers comply with new legal requirements to use local anesthetic during the removal of any horn tissue from cattle that will come into force from October 1 this year.

NZVA Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Helen Beattie says the NZVA has been educating members so they are ready to help farmers comply with changes to the Animal Welfare (Care and Procedures) Regulations. . . 

This snap-on sensory could tell farmers exactly how much to water their crops – Nathan Hurst:

In 2010, scientists at California’s Pacific Institute, a global water think tank, defined a condition Earth could face called “peak water.” Loosely, it’s analogous to peak oil, but it’s not just that we’ll run out of water. Fresh water won’t vanish, but it will become still more unevenly distributed, increasingly expensive, and harder to access. Many parts of the world are facing water stress, and 80 percent of the fresh water that gets used around the world gets used for irrigating crops, according to the Pacific Institute’s president emeritus Peter Gleick.

Over the past 40 years or so, total water use in the United States began to level off. Part of that is due to greatly improved irrigation, and part of that is due to remote sensing technologies—satellites, radar and drones—that assess water stress in fields based on temperature or how much light the canopy reflected in different wavelengths. . . 


Rural round-up

March 18, 2018

Camp manager returns to roots – Philip Chandler:

Managing Camp Glenorchy, which officially opened on Tuesday, is like coming full circle for Peter Kerr.

The 58-year-old’s stellar hotel career had its humble beginnings in Queenstown.

Dunedin-raised, he got to know the resort because his parents had a holiday home in Hallenstein St.

He had plans to go farming after leaving school, but a car accident – not his worst, as it turned out – put paid to that.

After two months in hospital he shifted to Queenstown and to subsidise his skiing, which he had fallen in love with, started working at the Frankton Motor Hotel as a trainee manager. . . 

$160m Kiwi cannabis export deal to US – Madison Reidy:

New Zealand’s only large scale medicinal cannabis grower has inked a $160 million conditional deal to supply a United States manufacturer. 

Under the deal Ruatoria-based Hikurangi Cannabis will send three tonnes of cannabidiol extracts, THC extracts and whole cannabis flowers to Seattle-based cannabis brokerage company Rhizo Sciences next year and up to 12 tonnes by 2021.

Hikurangi has a crop of 5000 plants. Rhizo also has suppliers in Africa, Europe, Australia and North America. . . 

Rabbit hunt postponed due to rabbit virus release

Alexandra’s annual Great Easter Bunny Hunt has been postponed so the newly released K5 rabbit virus has time to work.

The first batches of the virus were released in Central Otago this week at two sites monitored by Landcare Research.

Hunt convener Dave Ramsay, of the Alexandra Lions’ Club, said because there were so many rabbits in the district, the organising committee decided it was necessary to support the introduction of the virus by not holding the hunt, which attracts hundreds of people from across the country.

“We made the decision to see this thing [the virus] work,” Mr Ramsay said.. . 

Old season wool overflow is selling well – Alan Williams:

Large volumes of last season’s crossbred wool are coming out of storage as farmers decide it’s time to meet the market.

That wind-change in sentiment has put pressure on auction values in February and March, but prices, while still low, have crept up slightly at some of the Napier and Christchurch sales, PGG Wrightson South Island sales manager Dave Burridge said.

The older wool has been coming to market along with the latest wool shorn over the same two months and volumes have been about 15% to 20% higher than usual for this time of year and well ahead of the levels forecast by brokers, forcing meetings to work out how to cope with the extra.” . . 

Farm tick coming – Stephen Bell:

An assurance programme to guarantee New Zealand farm products’ environmental and sustainability credentials to the world is being developed by the Ministry of Primary Industries, Labour MP Kieran McAnulty told the Future Farming conference in Palmerston North.

And from now on all Government decisions, no matter what portfolios they relate to, will have to pass a rural-proofing test to assess their impact on provincial people and their communites, McAnulty, speaking of behalf of Agriculture, Biosecurity and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor, said.

The Government is also reviewing the Biosecuruity Act and plans to enhance the protection of the primary sector by allocating enough resources to protect the country from future incursions. . . 

Manawatū farmer unveils gumboot cleaning device at Central Districts Field Days – Sam Kilmister:

There’s a famous New Zealand folk song that asks “if it weren’t for your gumboots, where would ya be?”. 

It’s a question that Manawatū farmer Ivan Wildbore could put his own spin on as punters stopped by his site at the Central Districts Field Days in Feilding on Friday – if it weren’t for clean gumboots, where would you be? 

The Feilding entrepeneur unveiled the Yuk-Off at the agricultural expo this week, a boot washer he designed that even Fred Dagg would be proud of.  . . 


Rural round-up

April 10, 2017

Taste is tops – Neal Wallace:

ONE of the biggest consumer taste tests ever has revealed the eating quality of New Zealand lamb is consistently high with very little variation.

The finding followed more than 3200 consumer taste tests in NZ and the United States last year and showed factors such as breed, gender, pasture, growth rates, fat cover, marbling, confirmation and locality had a minor effect on eating quality.

The research was part of a FarmIQ Primary Growth Partnership programme in conjunction with Silver Fern Farms, the Ministry for Primary Industries and Landcorp.  . .

Sound science needed in policy making  – Mark Ross:

New Zealand’s strong export focus is unusual because our GDP relies heavily on our primary industries and export markets.
Revenue from these exports is estimated at $36.7 billion this year, but is at risk from unsubstantiated, over-hyped nonsensical claims.

The products we use to protect our animals and crops from pests and diseases have never been more thoroughly tested and screened to ensure product safety. But pseudo-science puts NZ farmers and growers’ chances of being world leaders in productivity at risk. Pseudo-science is beliefs or statements not backed by scientific evidence. Its promoters frequently play on people’s fears and cause needless confusion. . .

Farmers urged to use science to improve profitability:

Farmers are getting a push to use the “masses of science” available in New Zealand to improve their profitability.
Confusion exists about the key focus needed to increase farm profitability, says high profile farm veterinarian and consultant Trevor Cook.

The key point is how much product we produce per hectare, he says. And though body condition score and feed allocation are also key performance indicators, they alone are not the drivers of profit. . . 

Planting good for soldiers, farming – Nigel Malthus:

Even Canterbury’s arable farmers would benefit from the increased biodiversity offered by native reforestation, claims the man leading the largest dryland reforestation effort on the plains.
Tai Tapu native plant nurseryman and consultant Stephen Brailsford is managing the replacement of exotic trees at Burnham Military Camp. The project, three years on, has seen up to 45,000 natives planted.

Sparked by wind storm damage in September 2013, the project is to replace most of the camp’s exotic trees with the kind of native bush originally standing on the Canterbury Plains’ dry soils. . .

Dairy wants to play its part – Stephen Bell:

Fonterra recognises dairy is a big contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and wants to do something about it, environment manager Francesca Eggleton says.

The industry faced a potentially extremely large liability.

Dairy produced gases from cows, effluent, fertiliser, deforestation to produce palm kernel, energy use and transport.

Of the gases produced 85% were created onfarm, 10% from processing site and 5% from distribution.

The Dumfries House declaration:

On September 9th 2016, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales as Patron of the Campaign for Wool in association with M&S, hosted the historic Dumfries House Wool Conference in Scotland.

The conference brought together 250 leading members of the wool industry supply chain, from farm to store, to discuss the current challenges facing wool and how its further use can benefit the planet as a whole.

In his address to the conference, The Prince of Wales officially endorsed the Dumfries House Declaration.This is a ten-point declaration of intent to support an environmentally responsible, sustainable, and commercially viable wool industry. . .


Rural round-up

November 9, 2015

Alliance in good shape, Donald says – Sally Rae:

He’s been sitting around the board table at Alliance Group for 24 years but Murray Donald has finally called time.

Come December 17 and the Southland farmer will be gone, as he is standing down as a supplier representative at the company’s annual meeting in Oamaru.

Mr Donald (54), who farms near Winton, and fellow long serving director Doug Brown, of Maheno, who was elected in 2001, have decided not to seek re election. . . 

Exit from EU could cripple UK agriculture – Allan Barber:

A new report by agricultural consultancy Agra Europe entitled Preparing for Brexit suggests leaving the EU, to be determined by a referendum in 2017, could destroy the British farming sector. The authors have based their forecast on the Coalition government’s 2013 Fresh Start Policy document which theorised that British agriculture could imitate New Zealand and Australia’s success in surviving, even flourishing, in a post-subsidy world.

Not surprisingly there is plenty of scepticism about the realistic prospect of either of these scenarios eventuating. If British voters chose the Brexit option, it is most unlikely any government would eliminate all subsidies, while a cursory glance at the proportion of farm income from EU Common Agricultural Policy payments shows how laughable it would be to expect them to become suddenly profitable. . . 

Contest continues to hold appeal – Sally Rae:

Chris Pemberton was just a lad when he competed in the Young Farmers Contest.

It was 2005 and, at 17, Mr Pemberton was one of the youngest regional finalists in the contest’s then 36-year history.

He was still at boarding school at St Kevin’s College when he competed in the Aorangi regional final.

While unplaced, he performed creditably and was a favourite with the crowd. . . 

Spaans new DairyNZ head – Stephen Bell:

Waikato dairy farmer Michael Spaans has been elected the new chairman of DairyNZ.

The industry-good body held a special meeting of the board this weekend.

Spaans will serve an annual term as chairman, leading an eight-member board made up of five farmer-elected and three independent directors.
He replaced long-serving chairman and former Cabinet minister John Luxton who retired from the DairyNZ board last month after 12 years of service on dairy industry bodies. . . 

Yashili New Zealand’s Pokeno factory opens – Gerald Piddock:

Yashili New Zealand Dairy Co has opened its new state-of-the-art infant formula manufacturing plant in Pokeno, south of Auckland.

The 30,000m2 plant will employ 85 staff and have an annual production capacity of about 52,000 tonnes of formula product. It will produce formula under the brand ‘Super Alpha-Golden Stage Infant Formula’ with shipments to China expected to begin in early 2016.

Yashili New Zealand is a leading producer of infant milk formula for the domestic market in China. It was founded in July 2012 and is a subsidiary of Yashili International Holdings and Mengniu Dairy Co.  The new factory took three years to build and cost $220 million. The company’s goals were to produce the highest quality infant formula and raise the healthiest babies in China. . . 

Yashili, Arla and Danone sign agreement – Gerald Piddock:

Yashili International along with European dairy producers Arla and Danone have entered into global strategic cooperation agreement.

Signed at the opening of Yashili’s new infant formula plant at Pokeno on November 6, the agreement will see the three companies work closer together in supplying products into Arla and Danone’s markets.

“It is a significant agreement between these two great dairy producers who are each committed to the highest standard of food quality and safety,” Yashili International Holdings president Lu Mingfang said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

June 14, 2015

Phone call alerts Fed Farmers’ boss to fire – Audrey Malone:

About 7.30am on Friday Federated Farmers president William Rolleston received a call telling him the forestry block on his family’s farm was on fire.

The land, about 30 minutes south-west of Timaru, had been in the family since 1879. The blaze had started after embers from a burnoff to clear a piece of land, were carried to the forestry block by a gust
of wind.

Rolleston was at the Mystery Creek Fieldays, near Hamilton, and spent the day getting phone updates from his brother.

 

Fieldays farmers still spending – Hugh Stringleman:

National Fieldays is maintaining attendance and turnover numbers as farmers shop for bargains, especially for essential items.

Big ticket items were slow to sell but forward ordering for seasonal farm inputs, with the added benefit of delayed payment terms, was steady and competitive, rural retailers reported.

The big co-operatives were keen to help their farmer members wherever possible. . .

 Fieldays 2015 another big success:

This year’s Fieldays has been another major success and shows the resilience of the primary sector, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“Over 126,000 visitors attended the 47th annual Fieldays this year which is the biggest agricultural event of its type in the Southern Hemisphere.

“I spent three days at Fieldays and the mood was positive overall, despite a lower payout this year for dairy farmers. Beef exports are strong and horticulture exports are enjoying a record year. The announcement of the official cash rate (OCR) reducing to 3.25% is a timely boost for the primary sector and will help provincial New Zealand. . .

Positive strains in the air – Stephen Bell:

Positive strains are wafting through the agricultural air at the National Fieldays with the industry wondering if farmers have any money in their pockets.

The Ministry for Primary Industries increased the tempo with its outlook for the primary sector predicting a 17% increase in agricultural exports to $41.3 billion between now and 2019.

It even predicted dairy receipts to increase by a compounded annual rate of 6.8% from now to 2019. . .

Public access over farmland is ‘win-win’:

Farmers creating public access across their land can build awareness of what they do, strengthen relationships with the community and even boost farming productivity.

That’s according to Alistair Gibb, who recently established an easement and track to facilitate public access across his Wairarapa farm to a scenic section of the Ruamahanga River near Gladstone. . .

Communicate to counter critics – Glenys Christian:

A former Fonterrra Shareholders’ Council (FSC) member and strong supporter of the co-operative says even he sometimes feels like a contract milk supplier rather than an owner of the business.

Waikato farmer Neil McLean believes the answer is better communication between the co-op and its farmers.

He estimates that just 25% of them take an analytical approach to their co-op’s performance but need to seek out the necessary information themselves to do so. . .

Rural bachelor Toby cleans up the competition – Libby Wilson:

He wasn’t one of the loudest blokes but Toby How obviously made himself stand out.

The Geraldine-based fencing director made a clean sweep in Rural Bachelor of the Year for Fieldays at Mystery Creek, winning both the Golden Gumboot and the public choice prizes.

Maybe now he can claim to be New Zealand’s second most recognisable bachelor – after Art Green of The Bachelor fame.

But it’s a bit different at Mystery Creek – these blokes The Rural Bachelors were kitted out by Swandri and Skellerup, stayed in campervans and competed by driving tractors, fencing, speed dating and de-boning lamb. . .


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