Rural round-up

March 12, 2020

Southern Dairy Hub to trial new winter practices for better animal welfare – Damian Rowe:

Cows being able to sit on biodegradable mats instead of mud will be trialled in a bid to improve their health during winter grazing.

Southern Dairy Hub staff with the help of scientists, engineers and rural professionals have teamed up to create concepts on how to improve the farm facilities for winter grazing.

Winter grazing techniques were put under the spotlight last year after a nationwide anti-grazing campaign highlighted some Southland cows standing in mud, and prompted the agricultural minister Damian O’Connor to set up a taskforce in response. . .

From the Ridge: our farms are already regenerative – Steve Wyn-Harris:

There is a bit of wheel reinvention going on.

No, that’s not quite the metaphor that I’m looking for. How about teaching granny to suck eggs? Something like that.

Regenerative agriculture is all the rage, the answer to all our ills.

Really? . . 

Developing leaders for tomorrow:

Last month, 21 developing dairy industry leaders started Fonterra’s year-long Governance Development Programme, with two days of presentations and discussions at Fonterra’s head office in Auckland.

Now into its 15th year, the programme is an intensive year-long commitment built around a series of workshops, distance learning modules and coaching. It exists to help identify and develop governance acumen in future rural leaders. Being custom designed in conjunction with Massey Business School to be specific to the cooperative context, it is unique in New Zealand. Attended predominantly by Fonterra farmer shareholders and herd-owning sharemilkers it is also open to members of other New Zealand cooperatives such as LIC, Silver Fern Farms and Foodstuffs.  . .

Connecting to grassroots New Zealand -Fiona Windle:

It wasn’t a typical Sunday for my family.  We packed a lunch, extra layers and headed an hour south from our home in suburbia Napier for an opportunity to see what goes on behind a farm gate as part of the inaugural nationwide Open Farms day. 

On arriving at Mangarara Station in Central Hawke’s Bay’s Elsthorpe, we followed the signs down a long windy driveway where we and other families were warmly welcomed from our hosts, Greg and Rachel Hart at their guest Eco Lodge.  Nestled in front of the farm lake, among rolling hills and native trees, it was a picturesque and peaceful setting, which had you immediately feeling relaxed, with a sense of belonging. . . 

Keep stock off harvested hemp:

Feeding hemp to livestock is strictly forbidden and as well as contravening the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act, doing so could put New Zealand’s red meat exports in jeopardy.

Matt Ward, B+LNZ General Manager North Island, says according to the Ministry for Primary Industries, hemp or hemp products used as animal feed are regulated under the ACVM Act 1997 and are classed as agricultural compounds.

It is an offence to use any ACVM that is not authorized and there are no hemp products authorized for use in livestock in New Zealand. . .

New 500,000 tonne market on offer as India opens its doors for Aussie malt barley – Gregor Heard:

AUSTRALIAN exporters could be sending malt barley to India as soon as April after the Indian government removed a critical phytosanitary requirement that acted as a roadblock to sales to the subcontinental nation.

It paves the way for a market industry insiders suggest could easily see Australian trade to Indian in excess of 500,000 tonnes in the near term, rising to up to a million tonnes with time to forge closer relationships.

Based on current malt barley prices, the cost of preparing the grain for export and sea freight sales of that volume would mean a windfall of in excess of $180 million for the Australian barley industry based on current Australian port prices of $280/t. . . 

 


Rural round-up

January 7, 2020

Dead livestock paint grim picture of fire devastation and logistical challenges of recovery effort – Sophie Meixner and Tom Lowrey:

Images of fleeing kangaroos and dehydrated koalas have captured the world’s attention during Australia’s bushfire crisis — but heartbreaking photos of perished livestock paint an equally devastating picture.

In fire-scorched Batlow, New South Wales, animal carcasses line the sides of the road, with farmers beginning the slow, difficult and grim work of loading the bodies onto the trays of utes.

Most are sheep and cattle held on surrounding properties. Most are clumped together, their bodies blackened. . . 

Bushfires – Little Brick Pastoral:

Do you have 2020 vision? 

It’s been a heartbreaking start to the New Year across much of Australia. Whilst we know the threat is not over with a tough weekend ahead, we’re envisioning a year full of wet stuff! Quenching rains for a dry and barren land. And downpours to extinguish fires and provide some relief for our hardworking firefighters.

But it can be hard to know how to help in these times.

In 2018 we wrote about the drought in an extended blog post. This afternoon, we penned the following on the Australian bushfires; how you can find out more, how you can help, and why it is important that we come together.  . .

Bellbird film inspired by director’s upbringing in rural Northland– Mikaela Collins:

While making Bellbird, Hamish Bennett felt he’d be happy as long as the Northland-based film made his family and home community proud.

But its impact has spread wider than that.

The film, set over four seasons on a humble Maungakaramea dairy farm, is charming audiences already with its story of loss, love and hope in rural New Zealand.

Bennett, who wrote and directed the film, said he did not anticipate his first feature film would be as popular as it is. . .

That’s the spirit: botanicals offer scent of success:

The climate that has made some parts of New Zealand so good for growing grass also brings opportunities to develop some niche, high-value crops that are helping to establish new industries alongside traditional pastoral sectors.

Taranaki is an area where a comprehensive economic strategy has identified the region’s climate, including reliable rainfall and rich soils, which meant it was capable of growing a wider variety of crops than it does – with honey and botanical plants identified as new opportunities.

Botanicals are the herbs, roots, flowers, leaves and seeds added to drinks, cosmetics and foods for scent and/or flavour.

From the Ridge: the year Steve put his hand in his pocket – Steve Wyn-Harris:

Hey, it’s me, Ditch.

You remember me.

I was the tiny pup the boss found a few years ago when some sod dumped me in the water table. He rescued me, called me Ditch because he thought Watertable was silly, even by his standards. He thought he’d give me a chance of being a sheepdog but then folk reckoned I was a rottweiler. But I never was. Classic sheepdog with a bit of beardy, judging from my shaggy coat.

I’m big though. The boss had three nice kennels for Gin, Sue and me but I was very snug in mine . . 

Soil moisture: no more looking over the fence – Nigel Malthus:

Farm manager Bryan Mitchell describes as brilliant the SCADAfarm systems that allow him to remotely monitor and manage the irrigation of his 300ha of leased grazing land near Kirwee.

The farm has recently been transformed under Mitchell’s management — and with the landowners, the Hayes family — with comprehensive irrigation including nine pivots, a weather station and soil moisture monitoring, new fencing and stock water.

Internet-enabled SCADAfarm systems (supervisory control and data acquisition) tie it all together to allow Mitchell to manage his irrigation needs from a desktop or smartphone screen.  . .


Rural round-up

July 16, 2019

Saving the planet one post at a time – Mark Daniel:

Working as a farmer and fencing contractor for 15 years made Jerome Wenzlick very familiar with fence posts — now he’s “saving the planet one post at a time”.

Over these 15 years, Wenzlick says he saw quality slipping, wastage rising because of breaking posts and at times post availability was a problem.

He had a ‘eureka moment’ during a fencing job next to an old rubbish dump where he had posts breaking on plastics hidden below the surface.

“Surely if plastics are this tough we should be making fence posts from them,” he mused. . . 

The nation’s least worst farmers – Luke Chivers:

Banks Peninsula farmer and self-confessed radical Roger Beattie is never short of new ideas for the primary sector. Luke Chivers visited him to hear about some of the maverick’s pet projects.

On the south side of Banks Peninsula, where the wind gives the tussocks a permanent bend and the next stop is Antarctica, Roger Beattie is mustering his next big plan.

The wild sheep breeder, blue pearl and kelp harvester and would-be weka farmer wants to explain how unique foods and fibres can be produced by combining the diversity of nature with Kiwi can-do ingenuity. . .

How to make $700 a day from trees – Steve Wyn-Harris:

Let us talk about planting trees.

It is, after all, the season for doing just that.

I’m not planting the big numbers I once did, mainly because I’ve filled in all the places where trees were a better option but partly because I’m slowing down.

I’ve planted something like 60,000 trees myself, which sounds reasonably impressive until I mention 30,000 were pine trees. . .

From the ground up – Maureen Howard:

We’ll need to feed extra billions by mid century while being kinder to the land and reducing planet-heating carbon emissions to zero. The challenge has prompted some to call for a great food transition.  Maureen Howard talks to a farmer playing his part.

“It’s like cottage cheese, but black,” says Peter Barrett of the soil that lies beneath Linnburn Station, his 9300ha beef and sheep station at Paerau in Central Otago.

Above ground, depending on the time of year, sheep may be spotted grazing beneath the gaze of yellow sunflowers, surrounded by a mix of up to 30 other plant species.

Not just a pretty postcard, Linnburn Station is home to 25,000 winter stock units. In fact, this is farming close the limits. Much of the terrain is exposed rocky high country and for the past two years, the already low mean annual rainfall has declined to just 170mm. Temperatures fluctuate from below zero to 40degC. . .

The record-setting $10,000 dog – Sally Rae:

This is the story of a dog called Jack.

Bear with, as it can get a little confusing given that Jack – sold for a record price of $10,000 at last week’s PGG Wrightson Ashburton dog sale at Mayfield – was bred by another Jack.

Lake Hawea Station farm manager Jack Mansfield (24) bred Jack the heading dog, giving him to his great-uncle, renowned triallist Peter Boys, when the pup was 2 months old.

Mr Boys owned Jack’s sire and it was “general rule of thumb” to give a pup in return.

Mr Boys, a retired farmer who lives in Timaru, named the pup Jack and trained him up. . .

Rural Safety and Health Alliance kicks off – Sharon O’Keeffe:

Sometimes you need to go back to square one when tackling something as important as farm safety, particularly when there hasn’t been a significant improvement in the statistics.

A new partnership of rural research and development corporations is investing in a fresh approach to improve primary production’s health and safety record centred on innovative research and extension.

The partnership, called the Rural Safety and Health Alliance will invest in practical extension solutions informed by industry input on work, health and safety risks. . . .

 


Rural round-up

July 10, 2019

From vodka to high country – Sally Rae:

Geoff and Justine Ross are best known as entrepreneurs and founders of the hugely successful 42 Below vodka company. But they have traded city life for a rural adventure at Lake Hawea Station where they are using the skills gained in business to apply them to the rural sector. They speak to agribusiness reporter Sally Rae.

Geoff Ross was always going to be a farmer.

But the career path he took to farm ownership was not necessarily what he envisaged growing up on a deer and dairy farm in the North Island.

His wife Justine recalls how she wanted to marry a farmer; in fact, she thought she was marrying a farmer. It did not quite pan out like that. . .

Keeping the farm in the family – Luke Chivers:

Kairuru farmer Amanda Henderson says there’s a whole lot more to farming than picking a paddock and putting some animals in it. The fourth-generation sheep and beef farmer is dedicated to shifting the perception of New Zealand’s primary sector. She spoke to Luke Chivers.

When people think of agriculture, not all think of science, innovation and technology. 

But, thankfully, one South Islander is set on changing that.

“I believe education is critical in the agricultural sector,” 33-year-old Amanda Henderson says. . .

Farmers find perfect match in 100% grass-fed wagyu beef producer group – Sally Rae:

Southland farmers Mike and Kirsty Bodle are looking to create a point of difference – or X-factor – in their farming operation.

The couple moved south from the North Island 14 years ago and bought a drystock farm after deciding they liked the region.

After a few years, they bought a neighbouring property to convert to dairy but when the dairy market started experiencing volatility, they decided they needed to spread their risk to cover themselves during those times . .

Chewing out the vegetarian preachers – Steve Wyn-Harris:

I was a vegan myself once.

It was in India 40 years ago in a small village where it seemed everyone was vegan, going by the menus in the cafes.

But it was only for one day.

The next village appeared to eat meat and nothing else. . .

Kiwi healthcare company HoneyLab on the cusp of going global – Esther Taunton:

A decade after it was set up, healthcare company HoneyLab is on the cusp of going global, co-founder Dr Shaun Holt says.

A clinical study recently proved the company’s flagship kānuka honey jell, Honevo, is as effective in treating cold sores as well-known pharmaceuticals.

It was the second big win for the product, which has also been proven effective in treating rosacea, and growing international interest is keeping Holt busy. . .

Comedian Te Radar brings the light touch to agricultural events – Gerard Hutching:

After two decades on TV screens, the stage and the comedy circuit, beloved entertainer Te Radar has become the go-to jester for the agricultural crowd, and with good reason.

The funnyman has serious cred in rural circles; he grew up on a dairy farm in north Waikato, on the isthmus bordered by the Waikato River that juts into Lake Waikare. His father was a top elected official in Federated Farmers.

No stranger to the milking shed, he helped on the family farm until he was 20. But dairying held no long term attraction. . .


Rural round-up

May 27, 2019

Lobby group 50 Shades of Green calls for pause on blanket forestry – Heather Chalmers:

The Government needs to hit the pause button on policies which have led to thousands of hectares of hill country farmland being converted to blanket forestry in the last year, a newly-formed lobby group says. 

50 Shades of Green spokesman Mike Butterick said significant land use change was happening and its speed and scale had caught everyone by surprise.  

“It has snowballed so quickly that we need to hit the pause button and ask whether this is what we intended to happen.  . . 

Too much regulation can bring unintended consequences – Simon Davies:

Although you may not think some regulations apply to your farming business you’d be wrong, writes Federated Farmers Otago provincial president Simon Davies.

Regulation is part of life.

But the thing is I really did not appreciate how much of my life, and more importantly my farming business, was captured by legislation and regulations.

This can’t be highlighted better than since the last election. . .

Farmers own’t forget Jones’ outburst – Steve Wyn-Harris:

So now Shane Jones has decided to put the boot into farmers.

I thought he was touting and self-styling himself as the champion of the regions.

There’s his party doing everything it can over the last few years to portray itself as a reinvented country party and even getting grudging respect from the rural rump as the handbrake on the potential excesses of a centre-left government.

Then. in one manic outburst, he ensured not many farmers or rural folk will consider voting for him or his party next year. . . 

Tough times ahead :

Dairy farmers will be under pressure from the low start to Fonterra’s new season advance rates, Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis says.

“Cash is king for farmers because of seasonal conditions, demands for debt repayment from the banks and the rising tide of on-farm costs,” he said.

The forecast of the fourth $6-plus season in a row is welcome but farm working expenses have gone up 50c a kilogram of milksolids over the past couple of years and margins are tight. . . 

From potatoes to coffee, plant breeders are changing crops to adapt to an uncertain climate future – Sam Bloch:

We tend to view the effects of climate change through the lens of the worst and most dramatic disasters, from hurricanes and floods to forest fires. But farmers have a more mundane fear: that as weather becomes more extreme and varied, their land will no longer support the crops they grow. We’ve grown accustomed to living in a world where salad greens thrive in California, and Iowa is the land of corn. But even in the absence of a single, catastrophic event, conventional wisdom about what grows best where may no longer apply.

“People who depend on the weather and hawk its signs every day know it’s getting wetter, warmer, and weirder, and have recognized it for some time,” Art Cullen, Pulitzer Prize-winning editor of The Storm Lake Times, a twice-weekly Iowa newspaper, wrote for us in December. “The climate assessment predicts more of it and worse. Ag productivity will be set back to 1980s levels unless there is some unforeseen breakthrough in seed and chemical technology.” . . 

Industry urged to seize opportunities to communicate with public:

People working in every part of the Scottish red meat industry were today (Friday 24th May) urged by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) to support forth-coming campaigns and seize every opportunity to communicate the industry’s positive messages.

Speaking at a briefing to announce QMS’s ambitious activity plans for the year ahead, Kate Rowell, QMS Chair, emphasised a key focus of the organisation’s activity for the 2019/20 year will be to upweight the important work it does to protect, as well as promote, the industry.

“The work we do to protect and enhance the reputation of the industry has never been more important,” said Mrs Rowell. . . 

 


Rural round-up

June 9, 2018

Clear-cut forestry might make a profit, but local communities pay the price – David Hall:

It’s one thing to plant a billion trees; it’s quite another do it well.

Recent floods in Tasman, and now the East Cape, signal what’s at stake. Witness the logs piled up against Mangatokerau Bridge in Tolaga Bay. Or the hillsides scoured with slips in Golden Bay, left vulnerable to erosion by clear-felled forest lands. With extreme weather events expected to increase due to climate change, it is critical that we don’t plant one billion of the wrong trees in the wrong place with the wrong management system.

Our future forests need to be financially viable, environmentally sustainable, and resilient. Crucially, we also need forests that people want to live with, to be nurtured and protected in future decades. . .

Source unclear but charges likely:

It is becoming increasingly evident pinpointing an exact path for the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis into New Zealand might never happen though charges for Biosecurity Act breaches are pending.

The Primary Industries Ministry has not said how it thinks the organism entered the country.

While speculation is rife that European-sourced semen is the most likely suspect, Biosecurity NZ head Roger Smith said investigations do not support that.

The M bovis strain has been confirmed as of European descent but is also occasionally found in America. . . 

FROM THE RIDGE: Showing resolve and compassion– Steve Wyn-Harris:

As we all know, the Government has made the big call to have a go at eradicating Mycoplasma bovis from the country.

It is supported by our own industry bodies.

They were damned if they tried and damned if they didn’t but have shown faith in the scientists and experts and believe there is a reasonable chance of achieving the goal.

Leadership can be a difficult place at times like this and I respect the resolve, compassion and decision-making Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor have shown over this very difficult matter.

I’ve had several conversations with farmers from South Canterbury who have been dealing with the consequences of this disease. . . 

A smorgasbord of agricultural issues – Keith Woodford:

[For the last three years I have been writing fortnightly columns for NZFarmer, which is delivered free to all New Zealand farmers. However the agricultural press in New Zealand is undergoing major change. One part of that change is that Stuff (formerly Fairfax) is now moving towards a digital focus and will cease to publish the weekly NZFarmer. This was my farewell column  to NZFarmer.]

With the impending demise of NZ Farmer, this will be my last article published here. So, I had to give a lot of thought as to what I wanted to say.

Right now, we are surrounded by forces for change. There are so many topics that could be covered. So, I have decided to provide a smorgasbord of key issues.

Mycoplasma bovis
It would be impossible to walk away without saying something about Mycoplasma bovis.  This disease, and the way we have chosen to respond to it, will change many aspects of dairying going forward. My personal perspective is that we might struggle to eradicate the disease, but if we do fail, we will still succeed in managing the disease. There are many worse diseases. . . 

Significantly more Māori farms are grassland, stats show :

Four times as much Māori-owned farmland is grassland, compared to the rest of New Zealand farms, statistics show. 

By June last year, an average of 590 hectares of Māori farmland was grassland, compared to an average 147ha of other farms. 

The Statistics New Zealand figures showed more than eight times more Māori-owned land was covered in plantation crops. . . 

Sanford appoints Fonterra executive Katherine Turner as new CFO – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – Sanford has appointed Katherine Turner as the new chief financial officer of New Zealand’s largest listed seafood company.

Turner has worked for 25 years in various finance roles, almost 12 years of which were with the country’s largest company, Fonterra Cooperative Group, where she was most recently commercial director for Fonterra Brands, New Zealand’s biggest fast-moving consumer goods business responsible for brands such as Anchor, Mainland, Fresh’n Fruity and Tip Top. Prior to Fonterra, Turner had nine years in finance roles with French dairy company Danone in New Zealand and France. . . 

Fit for calving – Farmstrong:

Canterbury dairy farm contractor Nicole Jackson is on a mission to reduce the number of injuries to female calf rearers during the physically demanding calving season.

She’s created a six-week online conditioning and strengthening initiative for women to prepare their bodies for the physically gruelling calving season, which is currently under way in many parts of the country.

“There’s a lot of information out there about things like getting meals and the kids ready for calving season but not a lot about getting your body ready,” says Nicole, a mother of two young boys. . . 

New Zealand scientists are breeding sheep to fart and burp less – Jon Daly:

New Zealand researchers are curbing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions one sheep fart at a time.

Scientists at Invermay Agricultural Centre in Mosgiel, about 360km south-west of Christchurch, have bred climate-friendly sheep that produce 10 per cent less methane than their gassy counterparts.

Livestock emissions are the biggest contributor to New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions and make up about 10 per cent of Australia’s total greenhouse emissions. . .

 


Rural round-up

February 7, 2018

Still dry on Otago farms despite rain :

Recent rain is unlikely to be enough to break Otago’s drought. Farmers are still feeling the pressure of the extreme January heat as low water stocks start to take their toll.

Federated Farmers Otago president Phill Hunt, of Wanaka, said farmers were still facing what some were describing as the worst dry spell in decades. The stock water supplies farmers relied on in a typical year were not available or sufficient this year, he said.

“Farmers are understandably concerned about the wellbeing of their stock and are de-stocking where needed.” . .

Pioneer to build new hydro scheme on Fraser River – Pam Jones:

A new Pioneer Energy hydro scheme on the Fraser River, on Earnscleugh Station, will generate enough electricity to power 4000 households.

Due to the altitude and topography of the area, construction would not be possible during the winter, but track construction and upgrades would begin this month, Pioneer Energy development general manager Peter Mulvihill said. The main construction of the intake, powerhouse and pipeline was scheduled to start in September.

The scheme would generate about 30GWh of power annually and should be supplying the local region by March next year, Mr Mulvihill said. . . 

Deal a good one for NZ farmers – Peter Burke:

The deal NZ has in the now-negotiated Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership is the best we could have expected, says NZ’s special agricultural trade envoy.

Mike Petersen told Rural News the deal is potentially better for NZ with the US pulling out of the discussions. It is effectively a series of 11 bilateral agreements between each group member, and while the US has pulled out the market access schedules have remained intact.

That means in theory that NZ has a greater opportunity to export products to the other 10 countries in the agreement, Petersen says. . .

Farmers want Healthy Rivers amendments that are practical and not a free pass – Andrew McGivern:

I would like to think that in 2018 this is, at last, when we all start finalising the Healthy Rivers Plan Change One provisions, with hearings scheduled to begin at the end of this year.

For farmers and rural communities within the Waikato-Waipa river catchments, it will be great to finally get some clarity around the rules and direction of this plan change.

This is because from a business point of view, these regulations have been operational and enforceable since it was notified back in September 2016 and are already affecting farm values and investment.

From Federated Farmers’ point of view, while we agree with the aspirations of the vision and strategy, we believe parts of the plan and some of the rules and implementation, is skewed and in need of change. . .

Sorting the wood from the trees – Steve Wyn-Harris:

One billion trees. That’s a whole lot of trees.

I got an intriguing email last week.

It was from Crown Forestry, a business unit of MPI.

They were asking me if I had any suitable land to plant for the new government’s One Billion Trees programme, which is the ten-year target. To achieve, it will require new forests on up to 500,000 hectares.

This programme with Crown Forestry is but one of several initiatives to help achieve the target.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t help them as I fell outside the criteria of a minimum 200 hectares, which is just over half of our farm area, but most of the other criteria like access within the block and to local roads, terrain, fertility and such applied as we are about to harvest 8 hectares of our own trees that I planted 30 years ago. . .

Rod Slater on how much beef and lamb we eat

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Rod Slater has gone in to bat for New Zealand farmers after a newspaper article suggested environmental sustainability concerns were putting the heat on meat, with rapidly declining domestic consumption of beef and, particularly, lamb.

Speaking to Jamie Mackay on The Country today, Slater said the figures in the article, including that New Zealanders are eating less than 1kg of meat each a year, were inaccurate, and Kiwis were still eating a lot of beef and lamb, though not as much as we used to. . . 

Read the rest of this entry »


Rural round-up

October 18, 2017

Farmers see land ownership as a privilege – Steve Wyn-Harris:

A society without poets is a sterile and desolate place. Thus, I often read Bruce Bisset’s pieces.

In his column on October 13 he says “Even the No 8 wire ingenuity factor is taking a hit these days because of the alleged urban/rural divide – a divide almost entirely in the minds of farmers, arising only because they are reluctant to face the fact the industrial farming model they’ve bought into is a land (and water) killer.”

For a poet this is a remarkably long sentence possibly reflecting a pay per word incentive and impressively links farming ingenuity, urban/rural divides and the evils of industrial farming into one thought. A performance even crazy and erratic Byron and Pushkin would be proud of. . . 

Farmers decry stock on roads bylaw – Logan Church:

Farmers on Banks Peninsula near Christchurch are concerned about the effects of a proposed bylaw that would regulate the movement of stock on some roads.

Cows and sheep walking in mobs down the district’s roads has been a common sight for years, an easy way for farmers to move them from one land parcel to another.

Tim Coop’s family had been farming on the Banks Peninsula for over a century, and said the tighter rules would make it more complicated to move them on some neighbouring public roads.

“It would mean a lot of extra costs with pilot vehicles on very low speed, low volume roads,” he said. . . 

Gluckman speech identifies challenges and opportunities in clean, green synthetic foods:

New Zealand’s chief scientist says synthetic foods pose a real threat to agricultural exporters, but better regulation of genetic modification could create an equally large opportunity.

Speaking to the NZBio Conference in Wellington, the Prime Minister’s chief science advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman, said the main threat to New Zealand’s economy was from synthetic milks, such as the yeast-based milk created by San Francisco company, Perfect Day.

“I think if there is an existential risk for New Zealand, this is where it lies,” he said. . . 

T&G Global looks to sell food processing T&G Foods unit – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – T&G Global, the fruit marketing firm controlled by Germany’s BayWa, wants to sell its food processing subsidiary T&G Foods as the apple processing business has been hurt by a decline in fruit volumes and a slide in apple juice concentrate prices.

The company reviewed the unit’s operations and determined it’s non-core and consequently should be either sold, rationalised or closed, it said in a statement. Expressions of interest close on Nov. 15. . . 

Women are only good for . . . My Busy Country Life:

This is a subject that from time to time plays on my mind and I know as I write it I will possibly have a hit put on me for not standing by my fellow females. I was born and raised on a farm and from a very early age I was never made feel I couldn’t do anything on the farm I wanted to do, I was never told I should stay inside or that a farm wasn’t really a place for a girl/woman. I went everywhere with my dad from sheep sales to shows and never did I feel I was somewhere I shouldn’t have been. As I got older more and more responsibility was given to me and I was left at times to deal with vets or cattle dealers and what I said to them stood and I was always backed by my Dad. I grew up knowing that I was equal to any man if I so chose to do a certain job from driving a tractor to lambing ewes and all the men I dealt with treated me the same.

I now live with a house of men and I still feel I am treated as an equal, I am not given any special treatment because I am female and am expected to muck in when needed as is everyone else. . . 


Price of Milk fails fairness test

April 11, 2017

Sunday asked is our love affair with dairy farming over? and promoted this week’s programme as giving the farmers’ side of the story.

It was supposed to provide some balance to the anti-farming stories which have dominated media and it failed.

Jamie Mackay devoted most of yesterday’s edition of The Country to the reaction.

He interviewed Federated Farmers Dairy chair Andrew Hoggard and Waikato-based farm management consultant John Dawson:

Hoggard found the show “frustrating” as he was expecting to see farmers’ “heartfelt” reactions to criticism levelled at them in the media. Instead Andrew says he saw two farms being unfairly compared to each other which he believes would have created an unbalanced view for those not accustomed to farming.

John Dawson has a lot of clients on the Hauraki Plains where Gavin “Flinty” Flint’s farm was filmed in the documentary. He says Flint’s farm is not typical and there was a lack of “penetrating” questions for the farm that Flint’s was compared to.

Central Hawkes Bay sheep and beef farmer Steve Wyn-Harris and Northland dairy farmer Grant McCallum were equally incensed.

Wyn-Harris was looking forward to a balanced show where farmers would finally be able to tell New Zealand their side of the story. Within minutes of watching he says his “heart sank” as soon as he saw shots of Gavin “Flinty” Flint’s farm.

Wyn-Harris is so incensed he has laid a complaint with TVNZ and is fully committed to taking it the Broadcasting Standards Authority if need be. . . 

Sunday’s Facebook page  has hundreds of comments, almost all of which are critical of the show.

It also includes a post from the show’s front man Cameron Bennett saying:

We went to the Hauraki Plains with no agenda. We happened upon (as explained) Gavin Flint and he kindly showed us around. 

Happened upon? That might well be the case, but why didn’t the show use more examples.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle writes:

. . .Last year when we heard about this documentary, we approached the production company to provide information and we offered them farmers and industry spokespeople to interview. Several were interviewed, but none of their footage or commentary was included in the final cut.

In my job, I’m fortunate enough to see the good work you are doing on your farms, and the amazing connections you have into your communities.

Good dairying must be made more visible, especially to those that are commentating, those in regulation setting positions, and to our neighbours in the cities and towns.

At DairyNZ we are upping the ante in our efforts to engage with the media, the public and special interest groups to tell the real story of dairying.

As farmers living and working on the land, I urge you to continue to keep up the good work. We all have a role to play in the economy of our country, in staff development, in animal welfare and in care for the environment and our waterways.

To inform and change perceptions it is crucial to reach outside your circle of farming and rural friends. Tell it how it really is to people who may not know much about farming life, but enjoy their milk, cheese, yoghurt, ice cream, etc., which arrives on their tables in a container conveniently purchased from the supermarket. Tell them you produce high quality food, and you’re proud of it. . . .

The Price of Milk  showed two atypical farms, took a far tougher approach to one than it did to the other and failed the fairness test.


Rural round-up

January 31, 2017

 – Allan Barber:

When sheep and beef farmers in New Zealand grumpily ponder their forecast returns for 2016-17, they may be able to take some comfort from the precarious state of farmers in Europe, particularly the UK where they are facing even more uncertainty of income.

Private Eye’s Bio-Waste Spreader column contrasts the rhetoric of the Environment Minister saying farm subsidies must be abolished post Brexit with a report by her own Ministry, Defra, which finds British farmers would be unable to keep going without them. In the 2014/15 year dairy farms were the most profitable averaging GB Pounds 12,700, whereas cropping farms made GBP 100, lowland livestock farms (most like our sheep and beef) lost GBP 10,900 and grain growers did even worse. These profits or losses came before farmers paid themselves any wages or drawings. . . 

Heavy market share losses affect Silver Fern Farms’ financial performance – Allan Barber:

In recent weeks there has been an exchange of views about PPCS’s acrimonious takeover of Richmond in 2003. Keith Cooper, ex CEO of the renamed Silver Fern Farms, emerged from anonymity in Middlemarch to castigate the appointment of Sam Robinson to the board of Silver Fern Farms as the Shanghai Maling representative. He was critical of Richmond’s rejection of the original approach by PPCS to buy the Freesia Investments shares from the Meat Board in the mid-1990s and Robinson’s role as Richmond’s chairman.

Farmer, SFF shareholder and columnist Steve Wyn-Harris took Keith to task on the grounds of selective memory of what actually happened during the bitter but ultimately successful campaign by PPCS to buy Richmond. I must confess my recollection of events, without being in any way personally involved, is closer to Steve’s perspective than Keith’s and I still remember clearly Ron Clarke’s superb last column on the topic just before he died which was an eloquent attack on what he considered PPCS’s underhand approach. At the time Justice William Young referred to the company’s “gross commercial misconduct.” . . 

 

Quake ends dairy farmer’s season – Nigel Malthus:

Don Galletly’s Loch Ness dairy farm on the Emu Plain, near Waiau, remains the only one in North Canterbury unable to milk since the November 14 quake.

While farms either side were back up and operating within a few days, Galletly’s rotary shed is deemed a write-off.

“Three-quarters of the season is down the drain for us,” he told Rural News. . . 

Patriotism means we should eat more lamb – Jamie Mackay:

 . . On the subject of one-man crusades, last week on my radio show I launched my 2017 tilt at a windmill. In fairness, past crusades have had mixed results. While I failed to bring back rucking, I proudly and vicariously claimed some reflected glory when Fonterra, to its eternal credit, brought back milk in schools.

I also like to think I played a small part in the media publicity which aided a much-deserved knighthood for David Fagan. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

So what’s 2017’s on-air crusade? I reckon we should be like the Ockers in the West Island and make it a patriotic pastime to eat lamb on our national day. And if we can’t agree to do that because, let’s face it, we don’t agree on much on Waitangi Day, maybe we could all eat lamb on what I’d like to be our national day, April 25. . . . 

 

Image may contain: one or more people, hat and outdoor

Farming is like any other job. Only you punch in at age 5 and never punch out.


Rural round-up

October 28, 2016

Capturing excess water a no-brainer – Steve Wyn-Harris:

One of the current Hawke’s Bay regional councillors who has strongly opposed the Ruataniwha Dam and, party to many comments regarding farming, has as his guiding thought when considering council matters: ‘wisdom is old men planting trees under whose shade they will never sit’.

I like it very much and although not claiming to be wise I have planted some 50,000 trees on my own property and continue to plant as I near 60 so certainly won’t be sitting under the shade of these latter trees.

My own guiding principal throughout my farming career has been ‘live life as though you may die tomorrow but farm as though you may live forever’. . .

Southland woman published book on being a woman in a man’s world in the rural sector –  Briar Babington:

Women in the workplace have come a long way in the past 50 years, but it’s those experience that are the framework for one Southland woman’s latest book.

Dawn Andrews was born and bred in Gore and has put her life experience to pen and paper and published a book outlining the challenges of being a working woman in the rural sector.

“It’s a book that I’ve thought about writing for a long, long time,” she said.

The book is an autobiography of sorts, spurred on my Andrews’ passion to make sure history was being well documented, providing something for the future generations to look back on. . .

5000 lambs  ‘click the ticket’ in US supermarkets – Kate Taylor:

A Hawke’s Bay sheep farm is the first in the world to be certified for its pasture-only system. Kate Taylor reports on what makes this Central Hawke’s Bay station stand out from the rest.

Visitors to Mark Warren’s hill country farm get to witness at first-hand the skills of an expert four-wheel driver. A spectacular view from the top of Waipari Station is their reward for taking what seems to be a direct line up to the sky.

Perceived danger aside, Warren is skilled and confident on the side of a hill and doesn’t stop talking about the great advantages New Zealand farming has to offer.

Warren and his partner Julie Holden live on the 1300ha station (1000ha effective) in the Omakere district in coastal Central Hawke’s Bay that is managed for them by Nigel Hanan. . .

Taranaki road transport boss says bobby calf video is positive – Sue O’Dowd:

A video purporting to show poor handling of bobby calves being loaded on to stock trucks has been rubbished by Taranaki road transport boss Tom Cloke. 

Cloke said the footage released by Farmwatch this week failed to show the truck crates contained rubber mats to cushion the calves’ landing when they were rolled aboard. 

He wants the public to realise the bobby calves weren’t being rolled onto a hard grating. . . 

Fonterra assesses impact of big drop in milk production on future sales – Fiona Rotherham

 (BusinessDesk)Fonterra Cooperative Group is assessing the impact of a big drop in milk production this month on its contract book and future production plans.

In its latest global dairy update, the world’s biggest dairy exporter said daily milk volumes across the central and upper North Island were down significantly in the early part of October due to the impact of wetter than normal spring weather and this has continued, particularly in the key dairying region of Waikato where daily milk volumes are down around 14 percent compared to last year.

Given that milk collections are now at the peak of the season, they are not expected to recover and will flow into the balance of the season, it said. . . 

Differences between Australian and NZ meat industries – Allan Barber:

Information obtained from Sydney based consultancy agInfo shows a very high degree of procurement competition for domestic market supply, especially for beef; this situation has been driven by a tightening of livestock supply combined with aggressive pursuit of retail market share by Woolworths.

It illustrates how the dynamics of the Australian market differ from here, although the structure is quite similar: retail butcheries competing with two major supermarket chains and a larger proportion of stock destined for export. But the Australian domestic market represents more than 30% of total livestock production compared with only 10-15% in New Zealand where mid-winter is the only time of year when domestic production exerts greater influence.

Australian beef producers are receiving what appears to be an unsustainable price at the moment, measured at 69% of the retail price which compares with 56% in October 2015, 44% in 2014 and 36% in 2013. . . 

Farmers need to be vigilant around fixed rate mortgages:

Market commentators are indicating with 80% certainty the Reserve Bank of New Zealand will lower the official cash rate by 25 basis points next month and then it will begin to stabilise. This is leading many rural borrowers to consider if now is the time to be looking at fixing rates. Head of Corporate Agribusiness at Crowe Horwath, Hayden Dillon, cautions that with markets still showing volatility, making hedging decisions simply by following economists’ advice can be fraught with danger.

“Even with another cut appearing to be imminent, the market appears to have little appetite for more, and inevitably talk will begin around when they may start to go up. Many rural borrowers are now looking at an interest rate curve that is still relatively flat, and thinking now could be the time to take some cover. But there are variables that you need to be aware of before you start to consider your options,” warns Dillon. . . 

Young Viticulturist of the Year drives off in brand new Hyundai Santa Fe:

Cameron Price the winner of the Young Viticulturist of the Year competition 2016 is thrilled to receive a Hyundai Santa Fe as part of his prize package. He will have full use of the vehicle for a whole year. It is appropriately “grenache” coloured – one of the more unusual red grape varieties that Price nurtures on the Villa Maria vineyards where he works.

The vehicle was presented to him at the Bayswater Hyundai Dealership. Hyundai have been sponsoring the Young Vit competition for the last three years and in that time the prestigious Bayer Young Viticulturist title has been taken out by a Hawke’s Bay finalist, a genuine hat-trick for the region. Paul Robinson also from Villa Maria won the competition in 2014 and Caleb Dennis from Craggy Range took it out in 2015. It is becoming a familiar sight therefore to see a Young Vit branded Hyundai Santa Fe cruising around The Bay. . . 


Rural round-up

July 20, 2016

Improved vintage augurs well – Simon Hartley:

A near 35% increase in the countrywide 2016 grape harvest could buoy the wine industry’s exports to the tune of $1.7 billion by the end of next year.

However, the sector also faces some headwinds, including a high cost of production and seemingly constant volatility in foreign exchange rates.

Central Otago appears to be holding its own after an improved 2016 harvest, with quality from the larger harvest already showing positive signs.

Demand for New Zealand wine was continuing to grow in the key markets of the US, UK and Australia, global accountancy firm Crowe Horwath’s viticulture specialist, Alistair King, said. . . 

All sheep are not born equal – Steve Wyn-Harris:

Some people reckon all sheep look just the same.

But not me nor all the other people at the Beef + Lamb NZ Sheep Industry Awards in Masterton a couple of weeks ago.

We look at them and think “There is a specific individual who has some qualities its mates lack and I really like the cut of its jib”.

The awards celebrate high-performing sheep farmers and leadership in the sheep industry. . .

North Canterbury dam project targets investment partners – Chris Hutching:

The $180 million Hurunui irrigation scheme is seeking money from investors and construction companies for its planned dam in North Canterbury.

But before Hurunui Water Project can issue a prospectus it must raise about $900,000 in loans from its current shareholders to fund the offer.

If successful in raising the $900,000 it will be eligible for a $3.3m loan from the Government’s Irrigation Accelerator Fund.  . . 

School students explore agriculture and horticulture opportunities at Massey University – Jill Galloway:

Curious secondary school students have a better idea if studying in agriculture and horticulture is for them after an experience day at Massey University.  Jill Galloway was there to observe them.

An experience day at Massey University is, in essence, about attracting students and getting bums on seats.

Visiting senior high school students in Year 12 and 13, with a sprinkling in Year 11, could be the university’s next studying intake for agriculture and horticulture lecture rooms. . . 

Rangeland income reliability lifts with carbon cash – Andrew Marshall:

Understocking does not normally help a livestock producer’s bottom line, but increasing numbers of pastoral landholders are getting paid to reduce their carrying capacity.

Strategic understocking and vegetation management has enabled these producers to tap into a decade-long income stream which even pays up in tough drought years.

They are cashing in on a national carbon farming program paying landholders who sign up to a vegetation management schedule which encourages woodland regrowth to sequester carbon on their land. . . 

Life, legacy and living well – Briar Hale:

For someone who doesn’t get out much, George of Motueka sure knows how to live well. He never pops out to the supermarket and hasn’t been to the doctors in living memory, so you could be forgiven for thinking George’s life is somewhat constrained. But au contraire; George finds his wellness by working the land and enjoying the pleasures of home. At 89, George still works a full day on his farm, doing an impressive four-hour stint either side of his midday siesta. Health and vitality, as well as joy in his labours, make his old age a beautiful balance of keeping busy and slowing down.  . . 

Computer Protection Software, made in: the world.

A global software enterprise run from a rural NZ lifestyle block. A look behind the scenes.

At Emsisoft, there is no corner office with a view, no central headquarters that I could wander through unseen. Only a blue and grey logo, existing only online, with an untold story behind it. The lack of office makes Christian Mairoll a hard man to interview, yet, here I am with an appointment, winding up a back road through the heights of a valley, near Nelson, New Zealand. Population 5,321. I cannot see any of them, the road is deserted. Locals call this part of the country the Top of the South, I call it the beginning to nowhere. Not even a cafe at sight. The gravel pit road is cradled by mountains and tall pine trees. Christian Mairoll is the face of a company that – apparently – doesn’t have a company face. Given that Emsisoft was founded in Austria in 2003 and is now run from Christian Mairoll’s eco lifestyle block in rural New Zealand, there are many questions to be asked. If only I can find the house in the raising fog. . . 


Rural round-up

May 9, 2016

Women motivate NZ dairy industry’s survival – Kelsey Wilkie:

Stress, money management and solidarity were the themes of a women in dairy conference. Kelsey Wilkie reports.

Hundreds of women dairy workers came together to talk milk prices, cash cows and rugby in Waikato this week.

The Dairy Women’s Network event at Claudelands Event Centre in Hamilton  attracted 340 women keen to to discuss farming issues in the wake of a devastating downturn in milk prices..

Fonterra’s forecasted payout has fallen from $5.25 a kilogram of milksolids down to $3.90/kg. . . 

From wet feet to wool sock success – Sally Rae:

It all began with cold, wet feet.

American couple Peter and Patty Duke were long-time ski instructors before embarking on a business career which has resulted in their launching outdoor apparel brand SmartWool.

The company, based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, was later sold to Timberland and is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the VF Corporation, which owns other well-known brands such as Wrangler, The North Face and Lee.

After a break away from the industry, the apparel entrepreneurs got back into business, continuing their passion for merino wool with their woollen sock company, Point6. . .

Landcorp/NZM ink carpet deal:

Landcorp and The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) have signed a contract to supply wool to Australia’s most exclusive carpet manufacturer.

The agreement with Prestige Carpets will see 120 tonnes of wool sent to Australia through their New Zealand-based supply chain.

Prestige uses pure New Zealand wool and a cutting-edge tufted construction method to create carpets targeted at Australia’s leading designers and architects. . . 

Objects of the exercise:

They are the unsung heroes of the Golden Shears World Shearing and Wool Handling Championships.

Millers Flat farmer Trevor Peters is supplying more than 2000 Romney sheep for the event which is being held in Invercargill in February.

The sheep would present the world-class shearers with a good challenge, Mr Peters said.

The Peters family farms six properties: Spylaw, at Dunrobin, Bullock Range, at Moa Flat, Clutha Downs, at Beaumont, Attadale Station, at Middlemarch, Teviot Valley Station, at Millers Flat, and a finishing farm at Waikaka. . . 

Farming difficult but not all gloom and doom – Steve Wyn-Harris:

There is an increasingly growing level of anxiety in this part of the world as the dry conditions reduce options for building up some feed covers as we head in towards winter.

If we don’t get proper rain in these last two or three weeks of May then we can, at best, expect 10kg DM/ha/day or a total of 600kg DM/ha for June and July, which for most is about maintenance.

So early August feed covers are going to be around end of May covers and for many this will be too short for lambing and calving. . .

Old-fashioned farming and good old-fashioned common sense – Peter Burke:

The name Johnstone has been synonymous with breeding bulls in the Whanganui district for at least 90 years.

There are now five generations of Lindsay Johnstones: the latest one is Lindsay – call him Lindsay the fifth.

Back in 1925 Lindsay’s grandfather started off by developing a herd of Herefords. He managed to breed some pure white Herefords and, remarkably, Lindsay has kept that tradition going and has 25 of these animals on his property; more in memory of his grandfather than for commercial gain. . .

Feijoa-geddon could be coming to New Plymouth – Jermey Wilkinson:

Peter Peckham has collected bugs of all kinds for nearly 80 years and had never seen a guava moth until last month.

The New Plymouth man said he was in the shower when he saw the Pacific Island guava moth and rushed to get his bug net to capture it.

“They have quite a distinctive flight pattern, they fly quite slowly unlike other moths,” he said.  . .

 


Rural round-up

January 19, 2015

Water not just a pipe dream – Tim Fulton:

The latest Canterbury drought is reinforcing a message in farming: irrigation is valuable, stored supply is better and an alpine water source is best of all. TIM FULTON reports.

When the norwesters keep blowing rain on the Southern Alps and drying out the plains, even irrigators with the most advanced water networks can feel anxious.

Farmer shareholders on the $115 million Rangitata South irrigation scheme are facing tight storage conditions, even though they have access to periodic floodwater.

The network has been “just squeaking along with a rain here, a little fresh there” since it started supplying last spring, chairman Ian Morten says.

More water cannot be delivered from the main pond to farms on the scheme until the Rangitata River flows at 110 cubic metres. . .

Drought fears grow as dry spell continues:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is expected to visit the parched South Canterbury area in the next few weeks as concern mounts that it and some other regions may be heading for a serious drought.

The Ministry for Primary Industries is monitoring the conditions in South Canterbury, as well as North Otago, Wairarapa and southern Hawke’s Bay.

MPI director of resource policy David Wansbrough said it had been talking with farmers and rural support trusts on a weekly basis.

However, he said farmers and communities appeared to be coping so far and the Government was not planning to step in with any support measures at this stage. . .

Drought!!!? – Gravedodger:

Drought is widely regarded in agricultural terms as a prolonged period of low rainfall when pastures and crops become seriously degraded by dehydration.

Yes last spring was one of low precipitation in many districts and having traveled the East coast from North Otago to The Bay of Plenty in the last 50 days there are now pockets with fodder insufficiency from “The Dry” but drought it aint.

Large Parts of Australia have been in that situation for several years and many rural properties are in a savage drought. With livestock having lost a serious degree of body weight, water supplies gone burger and absolutely zero opportunity to remove stock as buyers do not exist, increasing numbers of Aussie Farmers are taking their lives as despair overcomes their will to continue. . .

Big dry affects dairy production – Dene Mackenzie:

Dairy production is likely to slow below previous forecasts as parts of Canterbury and Otago dry off and water restrictions kick in, ASB rural economist Nathan Penny says.

”As we get further into the New Zealand summer, attention is turning to agricultural production. In the case of dairy, production has been good to date this season – albeit uneven across the regions.” . . .

Storage gives power to farmers – William C. Bailey:

United States corn and soybean farmers have a clear understanding that bad markets and low prices will reverse themselves to good times, just as good times will, eventually, fade into bad times.

The challenge, when these high or low points appear, is to prepare for the phase that will follow.

US corn and soybean farmers have enjoyed, over the past three to five seasons, really, really good prices. . .

 Sheep help drive tribe’s farm performance:

Ngati Porou has turned around its farming fortunes, reporting a surplus of $324,000 in its last financial year.

The figure compares to the previous period’s deficit of $1.46 million.

The Tairawhiti tribe said performance of its sheep division had improved, with sheep values and prices increasing.

Ngati Porou also said its lamb crop nearly doubled over two years, reaching 12,224 last year. . .

Rural gig good for peace-lovers – Steve Wyn-Harris:

Possibly every generation throughout history reckons things are getting worse and we are all going to hell in a hand basket.

That’s a little how I’m feeling at the moment.

However, there are great things happening here at the beginning of the 21st century which we should be grateful for.

For much of the world’s population improved healthcare and better food have led to the longest life expectancy humans have ever experienced. . .

 


Rural round-up

May 18, 2014

Sheep farming vital, ripe for higher returns:

New Zealand sheep farmers could and should be earning more for their products, a sheep industry advocate has told scientists at AgResearch’s Ruakura campus.

Shifting into a higher earning bracket would result in a more vibrant pastoral sector, Steve Wyn-Harris said.

The Central Hawke’s Bay sheep farmer and columnist was in Hamilton recently as guest speaker at the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural Science’s Waikato branch’s monthly meeting.

He said only 10 per cent of New Zealand sheep farms made a high- earning $650 per hectare farm surplus.

The bulk of the industry had to be shifted into that bracket – “and it can be done”. . .

Money to protect southern water :

Landowners in Southland’s Waihopai and Waikawa catchments will have better access to funding for fencing and planting following a decision by Environment Southland to relax grant criteria.

The Living Streams fund supports landowners in the two catchments by awarding grants to projects that protect or enhance water quality, such as fencing waterways and riparian planting.

Senior programme leader Amy Kirk said the grant was a significant incentive for landowners wanting to put up fencing to protect waterways.

“Keeping stock from accessing waterways is the easiest first step to improve and protect water quality, which is our top priority,” she said. . .

 

Innovation central to farm’s success – Gerard Hutching:

Matt and Lynley Wyeth’s Spring Valley farm east of Masterton lies in the area called Kaituna, roughly translated as “plentiful eel”, appropriately enough for a property that has recently won a top environment award.

The native crayfish, koura, abound in the streams and wetlands dotting the property, testament to the health of the ecosystem. Sons Alex, 9, and Cameron, 6, know the best places to trap the creatures, both having acquired a taste for the freshwater delicacy.

Lying in the foothills of the Tararua Forest Park, Spring Valley can be difficult country to farm. A spring snowfall just around the key time of lambing is always on the cards, while 1800 millimetres of rain makes working the 1000-hectare property a daunting challenge. This compares with an average of 1200mm in Wellington city. . .

Import need will remain – Hugh Stringleman:

THE gap filled by milk powder imports was 20% of consumption last year and it will remain large for the foreseeable future, Rabobank’s China dairy and beverages specialist Sandy Chen says. 

The need would be 10-20% of demand this year, he predicted.

On a speaking tour around New Zealand, Chen said the gap between China’s domestic dairy production and consumption widened dramatically last year, from 5% to 20%.

NZ filled 90% of the increased import demand for milk powder. . .

Large-scale forest for sale near Taumarunui:

A 3000-hectare forest for sale near Taumarunui is one of the largest forestry blocks to be offered on the open market in recent years.

While forestry estates of this scale are often sold privately, Oio Forest is a first rotation forest for sale by tender.

LJ Hooker rural sales agent Warwick Searle said the size and quality of the forest made the sale significant. . .

Battle for New Zealand’s best bacon and ham begins:

Entries are now open for the 100% New Zealand Bacon & Ham Competition and top butchers are encouraging their peers to enter.

From the tastiest rasher to the most succulent slice of ham, the Competition attracts butchers and retailers nationwide who put their craft to the test on Friday 18 July 2014.

The 100% NZ Bacon & Ham Competition celebrates New Zealand’s finest cured pork products and helps customers identify and appreciate homegrown, sustainable bacon and ham. It supports New Zealand’s pig farmers, who raise pork solely for the local market. . . .


Rural round-up

September 30, 2013

Dung beetle holds dairy farm hopes – Alison Rudd:

Could dung beetles be the environmental warriors New Zealand dairy farmers have been waiting for?

They happily chew through the poo, turning waste into soil fertiliser. And with the average dairy cow producing 11 cow pats every day, the beetles have plenty of work ahead of them.

The national Dung Beetle Release Strategy Group (DBRSG) this week released its first 500 dung beetles into the ”wild” on an organic dairy farm at Tuturau, near Wyndham. Beetles will also be released soon on three other farms elsewhere in the country.

DBRSG chairman John Pearce, who flew from Auckland to supervise the release, said the beetles were expected to naturally spread to all properties, although that would take many years. . .

Prison farm work fodder for future –  Timothy Brown:

The entranceway to the 21st century edifice which occupies a 60ha site outside Milton is the last landmark before tarseal gives way to gravel on Narrowdale Rd.

Just around the corner, two large gum trees stand guard at the entrance to a dairy farm and down the driveway workers can be seen performing their daily tasks.

They look like workers on any dairy farm, but at the end of the working day these workers will return to that edifice in the distance because this is the Otago Corrections Facility’s dairy farm.

At the end of the driveway, I am greeted by the dairy farm’s principal instructor, Tony Russell. . .

Farmer ownership imperative – Sally Rae:

Finding the solutions to implement change in the red meat industry is still the major barrier in reaching the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group’s goals, chairman Richard Young says.

In his inaugural chairman’s report, Mr Young said meat company talks had offered no solution to date. However, those talks were still continuing.

What it did offer, if successful, was a managed approach to dealing with overcapacity.

Managed rationalisations would have less impact on all stakeholders and offer better outcomes than unmanaged rationalisations. . .

Pastures to boost hill country production:

AT LEAST 40% of New Zealand is too steep to cultivate yet still less than 1000m above sea-level.

The challenges of improving pasture on such land are considerable, but as the early results of a long-term project show, establishment of more productive species is possible.

What’s more, with the work on four contrasting sites around the country (see panel) on-going as part of the Pastoral 21* initiative, the findings promise to fine-tune best practice for improving and maintaining such country in the future. . .

Best practice could cut emissions by 30%: FAO:

GREENHOUSE GAS emissions by the livestock sector could be cut by as much as 30% through the wider use of existing best practices and technologies, according to a new study released today by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The report, Tackling climate change through livestock: A global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities, represents the most comprehensive estimate made to-date of livestock’s contribution to global warming – as well as the sector’s potential to help tackle the problem.

All told, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with livestock supply chains total 14.5% of all human-caused GHG releases. . .

All eyes on cute badger cull in the UK – Steve Wyn-Harris:

Recently I had eight English sheep farmers come for a farm visit. (There are nine Mexicans coming tomorrow, so perhaps it will be 10 Lithuanians next week).

One of them was Charles Sercombe, who is the National Farmers Union (NFU) livestock chairman. He farms in Leicestershire.

He told me the main issues in front of the union are the Common Agricultural Policy reform and their attempts to get on top of tuberculosis (Tb), which involves starting a badger cull.

This piqued my interest, so I asked him in detail about the issue. Tb has become a major problem and one of the vectors is the badger. . .

 

A Banks Peninsula company has won New Zealand’s top olive oil award for the second year running.

Robinsons Bay Olives from Akaroa took the best in show award as well as best in class in the commercial medium blend class at the New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Awards, where international judges commented on the high quality of the oils produced here. . .

Let’s move from fossil farming to future-proof farming:

“The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides a stark choice for New Zealand agriculture,” says Brendan Hoare, Chair of OANZ (Organics Aotearoa New Zealand). “We either grasp this opportunity to move away from fossil farming to future-proof farming – or we keep making the problem of climate change even worse by the way we farm. The status quo of more dams, more fertilisers and more animals per hectare is at least 20 years out of date. It is time to change the guard and our thinking.”  . .


Rural round-up

April 29, 2013

Hydatids rule changes proposed:

The Ministry for Primary Industries is proposing changes to controls covering a disease that has not been seen in New Zealand since the 1990s.

Hydatids can infect humans, sheep and other animals, and is contracted from dogs which carry the hydatid tapeworm.

The disease killed more than 140 people in a decade between 1946 – 1956. Many more people had to have surgery to remove hydatids cysts.

After about 50 years of control efforts, including regular dog dosing, the Ministry of Agriculture declared New Zealand to be provisionally free of hydatids in 2002.

But regulations have remained in place aimed at preventing any future outbreaks. . .

Farmers back tradeable killing rights, says Beef + Lamb:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s chairman says he’s had strong farmer feed-back supporting tradable slaughter rights as one way of helping to rationalise the processing end of the meat industry.

Mike Petersen says the concept was first suggested in a consultants’ report 28 years ago, but never picked up.

He thinks it could be a circuit breaker to unlock the challenges of getting farmers and privately owned meat companies to work together.

Mr Petersen says a share of the kill would have to be allocated to each company, and from a set point in time companies would have the right to slaughter that percentage on an annual basis.

He says regular updates on the size of the kill would be needed. . .

Meat firms working on simple plan

Meat companies are working together on a plan to rationalise the processing industry and the two big co-ops are willing to work with the Meat Industry Excellence group, farmers at a packed meeting in Feilding on Friday were told.

The co-ops and up to 700 farmers endorsed the MIE group’s aims and put forward John McCarthy, Steve Wyn-Harris and Tom O’Sullivan to represent North Island farmers on the group executive.

Alliance chairman Owen Poole said the industry was putting effort into an improved model and a decision on whether it would go ahead could be expected within two months. . . .

North Island farmers back calls for meat industry reform:

North Island farmers are planning further meetings to keep the pressure on for meat industry restructuring.

An estimated 600 to 700 farmers met in Feilding on Friday, to support the Meat Industry Excellence Group campaign launched in the South Island last month.

It has a five step plan to overhaul the red meat sector to improve profitability for companies and farmers through more co-ordinated processing and marketing.

Spokesman John McCarthy says there’s a strong commitment from farmers to see meat industry reforms through this time, but it is important to take things one step at a time. . .

Federated Farmers feed operation may be approaching an end:

The Federated Farmers Grain & Seed led feed operation, which will have shipped some 220,000 small bale equivalents from the South Island, may soon be approaching an end. With demand beginning to slow, Federated Farmers is concerned some farmers may be over-estimating pasture recovery following rain.

“Federated Farmers Grain & Seed can rightly be proud of the contribution our members have made in helping our North Island colleagues out,” says David Clark, Federated Farmers Grain & Seed Vice-Chairperson.

“With winter upon us demand for feed is slowing right up and we don’t understand why. . .

A Beekeeper’s Story:

When he was just a young lad, Bill Bennett built his first bee hive from scrap wood.

Thus a lifelong passion for producing the best quality Manuka honey had its beginnings.

From its humble beginnings, SummerGlow Apiaries has blossomed to over 1600 hives, setting the standards for Manuka Honey production.

Bill and Margaret Bennett have been beekeeping for over 36 years in the greater Waikato area.

Summerglow Apiaries specialises in the production of high activity UMF Manuka Honey.

Back in the early days of SummerGlow, Bill and Margaret used to make their own bee hives. . .

Queenstown Biking Community ‘thrilled’ with New Rabbit Ridge Bike Resort:

Queenstown’s Rabbit Ridge Bike Resort got the thumbs up at the soft launch yesterday when members of the local biking community got to check out the newly-constructed trails.
 
Some last minute rain ensured the trails were ‘bedded in’ and locals of all ages and experiences took to the trails with vigour.
 
From experienced downhill bikers to families with children, everyone enjoyed the opportunity to test trails including the beginner ‘Bunny’ trail and intermediate Donnas Dually track.
 
The invitation-only event saw bikers, bike shop owners and front line staff experience the resort for the first time. Rabbit Ridge is a joint venture by local bike business Around the Basin and Gibbston Valley Winery and will be the area’s only year-round dedicated and serviced bike resort. . . .

Canada farm persecuted by gov., thankful for help: Tiffany’s non-blog:

For some background:

Apparently I am farmed and dangerous…

But I am not a criminal. I’m a shepherd, farmer and writer who has been preserving rare Shropshire sheep for the last 12 years, and farming various other heritage breeds and vegetables for the last 30.

Then the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) killed my beautiful ewes and their unborn lambs to find out if they were healthy. They were.

They were also rare and pregnant. Now they are dead. . .

There are always at least two sides to a story and a Google search led me to several others including these two:

Sheep flock is both rare and slated for slaughter – Suzanne Atkinson:

A Hastings’ woman’s desperate attempt to save her rare Shropshire sheep from the CFIA’s axe is ballooning into a fundraising and full scale social media campaign.

Montana Jones, whose flock of 44 Shropshires represents approximately 25 percent of the country’s inventory of the breed, is facing the decimation of her flock after Scrapies was found in a sheep which originated in her herd more than five years ago. While her entire herd has tested negative – a test considered 85 per cent accurate, the 44 animals have also been genotyped QQ and are considered less resistant to the disease.
While Scrapies is not a human health risk, it can affect the productivity of sheep and CFIA is mandated to eradicate it within Canada to enhance trade opportunities. . .
Rare sheep on death row – Alyshah Hasham:

Montana Jones loves her Shropshire sheep.

She raises the rare heritage breed at no profit in a bid to protect the bloodlines tracing back to some of the first sheep on Canadian shores.

But the fluffy romance of 12 years has become a nightmare, with more than half of her flock of 75 slated for the chopping block for no reason, says the farmer.

Her Wholearth Farm in Hastings, near Peterborough, was put under quarantine and listed as a possible source of infection after a ewe she sold to an Alberta farmer five years ago was diagnosed with scrapie. . .

How endangered are Shropshire sheep? – Agrodiversity  Weblog:

You may have seen stories in the past week or so of a flock of Shropshire sheep that authorities in Canada have threatened with destruction. The sheep belong to Montana Jones, who raises them at her Wholearth Farm, near Hastings in Peterborough. Five years ago she sold a ewe to a farmer in Alberta, and that sheep has been diagnosed with scrapie. As a result, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency wants to destroy other animals from the same flock who are infected or suspected of being infected.

One problem for Montana Jones is that the test “is only about 85% accurate”. So the sheep that tested positive may not have scrapie, although I have no idea what that 85% figure actually means. False positives? False negatives? What?

It is a long time since I last had to get my ahead around scrapie, the risks to humans (it is not “mad sheep disease”), the different breed susceptibilities, and the different approaches to eradication. All of those are important issues, I am sure. What concerns me about Montana Jones’ case is whether the appeal to the rarity of Shropshire sheep justifies not taking the precaution of slaughtering some of the flock. . .


Rural round-up

April 9, 2013

Nine possible water storage sites identified – Rebecca Harper:

Nine potential dam sites have been identified in a preliminary study of water storage options in Wairarapa.

The “whole of the valley” approach could result in up to 60,000 hectares of Wairarapa Valley being irrigated if the scheme goes ahead. This would require 250-300 million cubic metres of water a year and the dams would be designed to re-fill before summer each year. 

Only 10,000ha in the valley is irrigated now. So far 201 farmers, representing 269 properties covering 51,000ha, have been surveyed. . .

Dairy company signs deal with Chinese:

New Zealand’s only Maori owned and controlled dairy company is signing a deal with Shanghai Pengxin on Tuesday to process milk from the former Crafar Farms into UHT products for export to China.

Miraka Ltd, which operates a big factory near Mokai northwest of Taupo, is in Shanghai with iwi who historically affiliate with the Crafar Farms to initial the lucrative venture. . .

The status quo leads to peasantry –  Conor English:

Recently about 1000 meat and beef farmers met in Gore. This meeting highlighted the concern that these farmers have about the profitability and sustainability of their farming businesses.

There are questions about the ability of the current supply chain arrangements to deliver appropriate returns to farmers so that they and their families can get ahead while New Zealand as a country can take advantage of the increasing market opportunities there are in a world of more people, protein and wealth. 

About three years ago Federated Farmers launched a T150 campaign, which set the aspiration of farmers receiving $150 for a mid-season lamb. It’s a simple idea. Right now this seems a pipe dream, but it is actually critical to New Zealand that this target is reached sooner rather than later.  . .

Farmers support Auckland Plan having Immediate Legal Effect:

Farmers have swung in behind Auckland’s Unitary Plan having immediate legal effect and Federated Farmers is to tell Parliament’s Local Government and Environment Committee Select Committee that tonight, when the Committee meets in Auckland to hear submissions on the Resource Management Reform Bill.

“Metropolitan Auckland’s past failures to address growth issues properly has resulted in flow-on effects for rural Auckland,” says Wendy Clark, Federated Farmers Auckland provincial president.

“Delaying the implementation of Auckland’s Unitary Plan for as much as three or four years will result in added costs for Auckland’s rural ratepayers. It will also hinder the resolution of metropolitan Auckland’s all too obvious housing issues. . .

Poor judgement quota full for now – Steve Wyn-Harris:

Good judgement, as they say, arises from previous bad judgement.

You can’t beat experience.

When I started farming about 30 years ago, I would make a bad judgement call or poor decision probably once a week and time elapsed might mean I am now being generous to my past self.

But slowly and steadily over time that interval extended.

The times I would get a motorbike in an awkward and potentially dangerous situation became less frequent. Instead of deciding to leave the ewes in a paddock for another couple of days, I learnt to shift more frequently. . .

Drought Shout 2013: Farmers woes to take a back seat for a day:

When farmers from all over the North Island attend this week’s Drought Shout in Mangatainoka, work is expected to be the last thing on their minds.

Daniel Absolom, from Focus Genetics is travelling from Hawke’s Bay with a ute load of others to attend Thursday’s Drought at Tui Brewery and says it will be an opportunity to catch up with old friends and colleagues and have a good time.

“This will provide a much needed tonic for drought affected farmers and an opportunity for them to get off the land for a few hours and catch up with their mates,” he says. “It’s been an incredibly tough year thus far and I’m a firm believer in a problem shared is a problem halved.” . .


Wyn-Harris wins Ag communicator of year

June 15, 2012

Hawke’s Bay farmer Steve Wyn-Harris has won the 2012  Landcorp Agricultural Communicator of the Year title.

I am not sure if this is the first time the award has gone to a practicing farmer but there’s no doubt his communication is built on first-hand experience in farming.

Wyn-Harris started his farming career in 1985 when he bought 180 hectares in Central Hawke’s Bay, adding several other blocks over the years, so he and his wife now have 350ha.  The properties carry high performance breeding ewes, including a coopworth sheep stud that uses latest technology such as sire referencing, AI and gene identification.  Bull beef makes up 40% of the stock carried and 15% of the property is planted in forestry, and areas of amenity and native plantings are scattered over all the farms.  He has won a number of farming awards over the years, most recently last year when the farm took out the East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Supreme Award.

However, it is because of his commentaries about farming, farming industries and agricultural sciences that he took out this year’s Landcorp Agricultural Communicator of the Year Award.   He is a broadcaster with his own local radio show and is a regular on the national Farming Show.  He is a long-standing columnist, and has been contributing weekly columns for many years, well over 660 so far, and currently appears in The NZ Farmers Weekly.

Steve was selected by an independent panel of 10 judges ahead of several other very worthy recipients to receive this prestigeous award, which was announced at an Awards Dinner in Hamilton last night.

The Landcorp Agricultural Communicator of the Year Award is administered by the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators, and recognises excellence in communicating agricultural issues, events or information.

Regarded as the premier award for agricultural communicators, it is also the most valuable prize on offer. Landcorp provides a prize of $2,500, which is part of a funding package of $7,500 in sponsorship for the Guild. . . 

Guild President, Jon Morgan, said Steve is a worthy recipient of the award this year.  His columns, comments, presentations at conferences cover an extensive range of topics, but his style remains the same, relaxed, whimsical and often humourous.   “He is widely respected as an excellent farmer,  but has that rare gift of communications that crosses all areas of rual life.”

Morgan, who is the Dominion Posts’s farming editor was last year’s winner.

Hat tip: RivettingKateTaylor


Rural round-up

April 17, 2011

Fonterra benefits from Chinese dairy market:

Cracking progress on its dairy farm developments in China has helped Fonterra achieve nearly 50 per cent compound annual revenue growth in the powerhouse economy in the past five years.

The growth across Fonterra’s four business units in China – ingredients, food service, brands and farming – reflects escalating demand for dairy products in China as well as consumer calls for safe, quality product. . .

Greeen methods no bar to profits –  Mark Hotton writes:

Waimea Valley farmers Grant and Bernie Weller won the supreme award at the Southland Farm Environment Awards last night.

They also won the water quality and habitat improvement award at the ceremony in front of about 230 people at Ascot Park Hotel.

The awards are becoming an increasingly important date on the farming calendar with the industry coming under increasing public pressure to prove it can be environmentally sustainable.

Finalist Geoff Clark said it was increasingly important to showcase properties and farms that are portraying a positive image of farming to the wider community. . .

Moving earth for water Claire Allison writes:

When the first sod was turned on Rangitata South Irrigation’s new scheme, there was no celebration – no photograph in the paper, speeches or ceremony.

Chairman Ian Morten says they like to keep things low key.

That might be a bit harder now that construction has begun, and the scale of the project is becoming more evident by the day.

Low-key it might be, but there’s no denying it’s large-scale.

The numbers involved are impressive. Taking up to 20 cubic metres of water a day from the south bank of the Rangitata River during high flows, the water will be fed into storage ponds, before being sent down the line to more than 40 properties between the Rangitata and Orari rivers. . .

The ‘Happy Factor’ – Victoria Rutherford writes:

Dr Andrew Greer has been interested in overseas trials involving the “happy factor” TST trials, and has been working at Ashley Dene to add a New Zealand basis to the research findings.

 TSTs are a part-flock or mob anthelmintic treatment directed at the individual animals most likely to benefit. This helps to slow the development of anthelmintic resistance through providing a parasite population that is not exposed to the drug, effectively diluting the frequency of anthelmintic-resistant genes within a parasite population. . .

Awash with schemes – Jackie Harrigan writes:

The country is awash with plans for new irrigation schemes according to Irrigation NZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

In total, 450,000-500,000ha of new irrigation area is “on the books”, 300,000 of which is new irrigation area and 200,000ha that will have increased water reliability. Roughly one-third of the area is already consented, but only 50,000ha is build-ready. . .

Trials, tribulations of farm forestry – Steve Wyn-Harris writes:

I’ve got a cheque to come in the mail shortly that has been 30 years in the offing. However, in this case I can’t blame New Zealand Post.

It is from a couple of small forestry blocks and an entrée for when my main plantings come on stream in 10 years.

In this case I didn’t plant the trees but in their second year I remember an awful job of working my way through the block to straighten them and stamp the soft soil firm again after a heavy rain and wind event.

It must have worked because few of them fell over again. I did the low and medium pruning and lacking a decent ladder and a height anxiety employed someone to do the high prune. . .

Alpaca on menus soon in New Zealand  – Hugh Stringleman writes:

Commercial slaughter and toll processing of alpaca for their meat has begun in New Zealand with two trial consignments through Venison Packers Feilding Ltd.

Alpaca breeders Peter and Tessa McKay at Maraekakaho, Hawke’s Bay, collated the first 43 animals to be killed and Venison Packers is working through the approvals of its risk management plan (RMP) amendments.

“We needed 30 sets of mainly microbiological data to validate the major changes to our RMP,” said Venison Packers general manager Simon Wishnowsky. . .

Opportunities for smart efficiency with tagging – Sally Rae writes:

Opportunities for more efficency exist with introducing of the National Animal Identification and Tracing (Nait) system, farmers are hearing.

The system will provide lifetime animal traceability, assisting with biosecurity and management of disease outbreaks. . .

Gene hints dessiminated – Sally Rae writes:

Commercial beef farmers had an opportunity to increase their knowledge and gain a better understanding of the estimated breeding values (EBVs) system at a recent beef genetics forum in North Otago.

The forum, hosted by Fossil Creek Angus and Goldwyn Angus, was held at Neil and Rose Sanderson’s Fossil Creek Angus stud at Ngapara. . .

Centre stage for wool at Fieldays Chris Gardner writes:

Waikato wool growers are excited their commodity will take the spotlight at the National Agricultural Fieldays, writes Farming editor Chris Gardner.

Wool’s comeback will be recognised at the National Agricultural Fieldays with the Primary Wool Co-operative the focus of the event’s premier feature.

The 900-strong farmer co-operative will showcase the way New Zealand’s best wool is farmed and demonstrate how wool carpets are made and sold internationally to tie in with this year’s Fieldays theme ”Breaking barriers to productivity”.

Te Kuiti sheep farmer and five times world champion shearer David Fagan welcomed the idea. ”I think it’s brilliant,” he said.

”Wool’s been on the back burner for a good number of years. It’s a great opportunity to get it out there again. . .

Hat tip: interest.co.nz


%d bloggers like this: