Rural round-up

October 19, 2016

New Zealand Food Awards unveils the ‘best of the best’ for 2016:

The winners of the 2016 New Zealand Food Awards, in association with Massey University, were unveiled this evening at a gala dinner among 400 guests at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, with nine products from 11 companies taking out the top spots.

A record number of entries – up 62 per cent on last year – made competition for the prestigious awards more intense than ever this year.

Wanganui’s Coastal Spring Lamb proved the overall champion, claiming the ultimate accolade of the Massey University Supreme Award, as well as the Export Innovation and Chilled Foods Award categories with its Lamb Rack. Judges were particularly impressed with the process used to grow, market and sell the product from pasture to plate.

Coastal Spring Lamb owners, Richard and Suze Redmayne, say winning the Massey University Supreme Award was a dream come true and great recognition for the farming families behind the high quality product. . . 

Exporters back single QA standard for deer farms:

All five major venison marketing companies and the NZ Deer Farmers Association (NZDFA) are backing the introduction of a revamped quality assurance programme for farmed deer.

The companies have agreed on a single standard for deer that will eliminate duplication between companies running their own QA programmes. They have also agreed that, after a three-year phase-in period, compliance with the QA standard will be a requirement for the supply of animals for Cervena™ venison.

The development of the single standard was initiated by the marketers and co-ordinated by Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) as part of the industry’s Passion2Profit (P2P) programme. . . 

NZ to support dairy development in Peru:

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce has today announced New Zealand will contribute $4 million to a four-year dairy development partnership with Peru.

“The New Zealand Peru Dairy Support Project will use our expertise to improve the profitability of up to 90,000 dairy farmers in the Peruvian Sierra,” Mr Joyce says.

“The project will focus on assisting Peruvian farmers with New Zealand technologies to improve milk and cheese production, handling and processing practices, and more effective research and extension.

“Dairying has good potential to increase smallholder dairy productivity and incomes in the Sierra, generating regular cash income and contributing to household nutrition and food security. . . 

Hawke’s Bay Apple Crop Budding Well for a High Quality Season:

Hot, sunny weather in Hawke’s Bay is budding well for another high quality apple crop as the trees reach full bloom.

One of New Zealand’s largest apple growers, BOSTOCK New Zealand is expecting a solid season in 2017.

BOSTOCK New Zealand Owner John Bostock says the outlook is positive thanks to mild weather and few frosts.

“Warm, dry conditions are ideal when trees are in bloom – we have had some really hot days in Hawke’s Bay, with temperatures reaching the mid 20s and indications show it’s a strong bud. . . 

The Stories of Ehrlich, Borlaug and the Green Revolution – Gopi Rajagopal:

 Fifty years after high yielding variety seeds came to India, a look at how they got here – and what may have happened if they didn’t.

For the average person, the names Ehrlich and Borlaug may not mean anything. However, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the two Americans, in their own way, did something extraordinary. Paul R. Ehrlich, a professor of biology at Stanford University, painted a depressing picture of the state of the world – a picture that had hundreds of millions dying within a decade, and nations such as India and England ceasing to exist.

Norman Borlaug, along with his associates, proved Ehrlich wrong. Borlaug helped nations such as Mexico and India double, even triple, their crop yield – an increase that outpaced the population growth rate and ensured that famines would remain only in the history books. . . 

Inland Revenue considers updating farmhouse expenses rules:

Inland Revenue is looking to bring tax accounting practice regarding farmhouse expenses into line with the law.

This is all part of a review of out-dated practices and policies.

The practice of full-time farmers deducting 25% of farmhouse expenses without needing to provide evidence of their business use has been accepted by the department since the 1960s.

Farmers have also been able to deduct 100% of rates bills and interest costs on loans.

Inland Revenue Group Tax Counsel Graham Tubb said this has allowed some farmers to claim deductions for private spending. . . 

Farmers’ Market Comes to Town:

Four New Zealand farmers have joined forces to bring the freshness of farmers’ market free range eggs to selected supermarkets across the country – introducing Craft Farmers’ Co-op. Kiwis can now enjoy premium free range eggs, within days of local hand-picking.

Located in Northland, Auckland, Wairarapa and Canterbury, the four independent farmers share common philosophies in the way they care for their hens and respect their environment. By collaborating as Craft Farmers’ Co-op, the farmers can provide farm-fresh free range eggs direct to more Kiwis in more locations.

Craft Farmers’ Co-op eggs are hand-packaged at the farm, into biodegradable, recyclable cartons, each with a story about the local farmer who picked them. This means people know exactly where their eggs have come from – the ultimate in traceability. . . 

Pioneering vineyard placed on the market for sale:

The first sheep farm/vineyard conversion property in the Marlborough district of Ward, continuously owned by the same family for six generations, has been placed on the market for sale.

A pioneering vineyard that led the conversion from sheep farming to grape growing in its region has been placed on the market for sale, ending six generations of family ownership.

Francis Estate Vineyard at Ward, South-East Marlborough, was established as a sheep and beef breeding farm by Frederick William (Billy) Francis and his wife Agnus Elizabeth Francis in 1905. The farm remained a meat and wool production focused operation until the late 1980s when the removal of farm subsidies affected the profitability of the sector nationwide. . .

Image may contain: 1 person , text

Rural round-up

October 11, 2016

NZ lamb prices lift; weak demand likely to weigh on future returns – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand lamb meat prices advanced last month on lower supplies but analysts expect the uplift will be temporary due to weak demand in the UK market, where around two thirds of the country’s lamb legs are exported.

The benchmark CKT price for a leg of lamb in the UK rose to 4.20 British pounds per kilogram in September, from 4.10 pounds/kg in August and 3.40 pounds/kg in September last year, according to AgriHQ data. In New Zealand dollar terms, returns were $7.51/kg in September, from $7.41/kg in August, and compared with $8.04/kg a year earlier.

In New Zealand, the average price from local meat processors lifted to $5.80/kg, from $5.68/kg in August,and compared with $6.05/kg a year earlier, AgriHQ said. . . 

NZ Hereford beef a hit in Germany – Gerald Piddock:

German consumers are taking a liking to New Zealand hereford beef, with demand growing in a market traditionally dominated by pork and poultry.

Fuelling that demand is the cattle’s grass fed diet and New Zealand’s outdoor farming style, importer Christian Klughardt says.

Klughardt and his brother, Oliver, run HP Klughardt, a family business started by their father in 1968. They have bought lamb and venison from Silver Fern Farms (SFF) and its predecessor PPCS for about 30 years. . . 

New app helps farmers manage mastitis:

A new app for farmers has been launched by LIC Automation to help those with CellSense in-line sensors to more easily manage mastitis in their herd.

CellSense is an automated in-line sensor providing farmers with a live somatic cell count (SCC) resultwithin two minutes of cupping the cow. The new CellSense Connected app sends the SCC results straight to farmers’ smart devices. Data is presented in an easy-to-use format on the farmers’ devices (phones and tablets), allowing them to assign a SCC result to a cow during milking.

This means farmers can view reports at their convenience and use them to aid dry off decisions. A flashing light system in the milking shed is an optional extra that alerts farmers to which cows in the herd have a high SCC. . . 

Freshwater management to benefit from new institute:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce has today announced the creation of a new freshwater institute between NIWA and the University of Waikato.

Te Waiora, Joint Institute for Freshwater Management (NIWA and the University of Waikato) will be on the university’s Hamilton campus and involve iwi, national and international partners.

“This is a significant step forward in freshwater management in New Zealand, and will enhance our research capabilities and facilities to address future management of our freshwater resources and environments,” Mr Joyce says.

“The Joint Institute will be a world-leading centre for interdisciplinary freshwater research and teaching. It will build capability and capacity across the sciences, engineering, management, law, economics policy, mātauranga Māori and education, with the aim of delivering greater economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits from and for freshwater. . . 

Cycle trail a $37 million boost for regions:

More than a million people used the New Zealand Cycle Trail last year, generating around $37 million in economic benefits for local communities, according to a new report released today by Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism John Key.

The evaluation the New Zealand Cycle Trail, includes an independent cost benefit analysis showing that for every dollar attributable to construction and maintenance of the trails, approximately $3.55 of benefits was generated.

“The New Zealand Cycle Trail has been very effective in attracting high-value visitors to our regions,” says Mr Key. . . 

Parasite-resistant deer on the horizon?:

Deer breeders who want to select deer with natural resistance to internal parasites may now do so. However, they’re taking a punt, as research to find out whether – or how – resistance is linked to growth rates and parasite levels in deer won’t be completed until late next year.

Resistance levels are scored using a saliva test that measures the antibodies triggered when animals ingest internal parasites.

Dubbed CARLA, short for carbohydrate larval antigens, the test was developed by AgResearch scientists for the sheep industry, where CARLA breeding values (BVs) are now a routine part of genetic selection. . . 

Improved road access for farmers:

Farmer Rayawa (on horseback) observes as his road is upgraded.

Small to medium scale crop farmers living along Lutukina Road in the Macuata Province are now able to get their produce to markets faster and with their crops undamaged since their road was recently repaired by Fulton Hogan Hiways.

FHH is contracted by Fiji Roads Authority to maintain the unsealed and sealed road networks in the Northern division.

Running through green terrain, Lutukina Road is located off the Labasa/Nabouwalu highway. It is 45 kilometres from Labasa Town and six kilometres from Dreketi. . . 

Farmers warned not to plant left-over contaminated fodder beet seed:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is cautioning farmers not to plant left-over seed from any of the six lines of fodder beet seed imported last year and known to be contaminated with velvetleaf.

MPI is working with industry players and regional councils to manage the incursion of the pest weed resulting from the importation of the contaminated seed.

Response Incident Controller David Yard says there are hundreds of properties around New Zealand that have velvetleaf on them and we don’t want any more.

“MPI has banned the importation of any of the affected lines, but we believe there are likely to be farmers out there who bought contaminated seed lines last year and could have left-over seed in their sheds. . . 

Continued investment in facilities and infrastructure has led to the most successful winter season on record for Cardrona Alpine Resort:

Continued investment in facilities and infrastructure has led to the most successful winter season on record for Cardrona Alpine Resort this year. Cardrona’s previous skier day record has been smashed by over 30,000 visits this year – a sign of growth in both the snow sports and local tourism industries.

Investing in key areas such as carparking and the Valley View base area, along with a focus on minimising pinch points, has created a more even spread of capacity. Continual investment in terrain management including the SnowSat system, snowmaking capacity and grooming fleet has created a more stable, season-long product.

The entire resort was open top to bottom on Opening Day June 11, including Valley View Quad for the first time in the lift’s history. Early snowfall, increased snowmaking capacity and tactical terrain management saw the resort fully operational from day one. . . 

Rural round-up

October 6, 2016

Industry condemns skipper’s actions:

Seafood New Zealand supports the prosecution of a commercial fishing boat skipper over the death of albatross at sea.

“Industry is very disappointed in this skipper’s actions that were totally out of line. We support the Ministry for Primary Industries in the action they have taken against him,” says Chief Executive Tim Pankhurst.

“There is no excuse for his behaviour. He was required to use a tori line, a device using streamers to scare off birds. . . 

Dairy price effect still hurting NZ SMEs:

The dairy downturn is still having an impact on small to medium enterprises in many parts of the country, although there are definite green shoots in the economy according to the latest MYOB Colmar Brunton Business Monitor Survey.

More than one third (34 per cent) of all agribusinesses have been affected by low dairy prices in the past six months, with 12 per cent saying the impact is ‘very negative’.

For the many businesses connected to the agricultural economy, that remains a problem. Compared to a national average of 39 per cent, just 25 per cent of rural SMEs saw their revenues improve in the last 12 months, according to the latest Business Monitor, and 24 per cent reported a decline in income over the period. . . 

New Zealand farming leaders check in on Brexit:

Britain’s arrangements for leaving the European Union (EU) by the summer of 2019 and progress towards an EU-NZ Free Trade Agreement, will be on the agenda when Beef + Lamb New Zealand meets British and EU farming representatives during a northern hemisphere visit.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman, James Parsons and Southern South Island farmer director Andrew Morrison are in Britain, France, Ireland and Belgium this week to meet with New Zealand’s farming counterparts, to discuss areas of common interest including lamb consumption and maintaining year-round supply for European consumers. . . 

$3m in new projects for High-Value Nutrition:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today announced the High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge is investing $3 million in its Consumer Insights and Science of Food research programmes.

“The research into high-value nutrition is hugely important in moving our food production from volume to value”, Mr Joyce says.  “These projects will help product development that brings maximum returns for New Zealand food exporters.”

The Consumer Insights research programme is focused on understanding consumers’ beliefs, perceptions, attitudes and behaviours.

“Up to $1.5 million has been allocated to research the science of consumers, with a focus on health and wellness needs of Asian consumers. It will research what is needed to establish a habitual consumption of high-value nutritional foods, which is vital in ensuring investment is directed in areas that will resonate most with consumers. . . 

Ancient sheep breed alive and well in Wimbledon – Christine McKay:

Jacob sheep are an ancient breed with their story appearing in the book of Genesis in the Bible.

For Wimbledon farmer, Brian Hales, the story of the Jacob sheep is something special.
“Their story and how they came to be in New Zealand, is truly magnificent,” he said.

Jacobs are brown sheep with white spots or white sheep with brown spots. Their breed, Manx Loughtun, is unique for having one, two or three sets of horns. . . 

New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards offer benefits to farm owners and employers:

Excitement is building as the date for entries to open for the 2017 The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards entries nears. Entries for the 2017 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will be accepted online at from October 20 and will close on November 30, with Early Bird entries closing at midnight on November 9.

The Awards encourage best practice and the sharing of excellence and also identify and promote the dairy industry’s future leaders. They enable people to progress through the awards as a person progresses through the dairy industry – from farm worker to herd manager, farm manager and contract milker to share milker.

The Awards are supported by DairyNZ, De Laval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra Farm Source, Honda Motorcycles NZ, LIC, Meridan Energy, Ravensdown, Westpac and industry partner Primary ITO. . . 

Sanford gets Marlborough innovation award – Tracey Neal:

Sanford fishing company’s Marlborough operation has received a civic award more than a year after major job losses at the company.

Its Havelock processing facility is one of the largest in New Zealand, employing 300 people and contributing around $15 million annually to the local economy in salary and wages.

The company’s mussel processing operation in Havelock was yesterday given the Marlborough Award, last presented in 2006, which recognises significant contribution to the district through innovation. . . 

Fonterra Moves to Reduce Sugar Content in Kids’ Yoghurt – Anchor Uno:

Fonterra’s Anchor Uno now contains the lowest levels of sugar (per 100 grams) in any kids’ yoghurt brand in New Zealand, with 40 per cent less sugar than the original Uno formulation.

Good nutrition is important for growing children as they are developing nutritional habits that can continue throughout their lives. The Anchor team recognise this and has come up with a way to provide a healthier alternative that kids still enjoy.

Anchor Cultured Brand Manager Nicola Carroll says Anchor is committed to continuously improving its product portfolio to reduce the use of added sugars without compromising the quality, taste and texture of the product. . . 

A day down on the farm: Owl Farm’s first Annual Public Open Day:

Owl Farm in Cambridge is opening its gates to urban communities for its inaugural Open Day on Saturday 15 October, 11am until 4pm.

The theme, ‘From our grass to your glass, how your milk is made’, aims to close the gap between town and country by giving the communities in which Owl Farm operates an up-close experience of a working dairy farm.

“It’s vitally important that the dairy industry engage and demonstrate what dairy is all about, and where our milk comes from,” says Demonstration Manager Doug Dibley. “The event will be a fantastic opportunity for a fun and educational day on the farm for the whole family”. . . 

Auditing Stock – A crucial component to mitigating stock losses:

The recent theft of 500 dairy cows has been another harsh wake up call for the industry as farmers consider if they are taking the right precautions in protecting their second largest asset. Michael Lee, an agribusiness audit specialist at Crowe Horwath, advises how the introduction of simple systems can mitigate potential theft.

The Federated Farmers’ dairy industry chairperson, Andrew Hoggard points out if a bank was robbed there would be uproar, but police don’t tend to see stock as cold, hard cash.

Lee agrees saying, “Stock theft is extremely important for farmers as not only do they lose their capital when stock is stolen, which for a dairy cow can be up to $2,000, they also suffer the loss of revenue from that stock.” . . 

No automatic alt text available.

Rural round-up

October 5, 2016

The rise of China’s agriculture – Keith Woodford:

Although it leaves many New Zealanders uncomfortable, there is a stark reality that the future of New Zealand’s agricultural industries, and hence the overall economy, is highly dependent on China. The reason is very simple: there is no-one else in the world who needs and wants our agricultural products at the levels we produce those products.

If action were driven by logic, then we would spend a lot of effort in trying to understand China.   We would want to understand Chinese consumers, we would want to understand Chinese government policy towards agriculture, and we would want to understand what is happening on the ground in rural China.

We do know something about all of these things, but we don’t know enough.  In particular, we know very little about what is happening within Chinese agriculture itself.

New meat strategy positive – MIA:

 Beef+Lamb NZ’s new red meat marketing strategy results from a step-up in collaboration by the wider red meat sector, says Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie.

And the new approach is not without valuable precedent. The refocused strategy, with BLNZ directing promotional efforts to new markets, is similar to decades ago when North American and Japanese markets were targeted after Britain joined the European Union (then known as the Common Market), Ritchie says. . . 

Dairy-specific science facility secured for Southland:

A new dairy research and demonstration farm being developed in Southland will ensure the local dairy sector continually has access to the latest science and innovation, Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce says.

The Southern Dairy Hub is being funded by AgResearch, DairyNZ and the Southern Dairy Development Trust, which represents the region’s dairy farmers.

The investment recognises the scale and importance of dairying in the Southern region and aims to address the unique significant localised issues faced by Southland dairy farmers. . . 

Wilson urges farmers to back changes:

One week out from an important vote for New Zealand’s biggest company, Fonterra Chairman John Wilson is urging farmers to back changes to the cooperative’s governance and representation.

This would mean Fonterra can stay focussed on making the most from farmers’ milk and growing farmers’ wealth, he says.  

“Over the past eight months there has been a lot of good discussion on the unique governance structure of the cooperative,” Wilson says. . . 

Access to food essential to better urban planning:

Access to staples of the New Zealand food basket, such as carrots, potatoes, onions and leafy greens, must be a consideration on the table in urban planning, says Horticulture New Zealand Chief Executive Mike Chapman.

Horticulture New Zealand has made a submission on the Productivity Commission’s draft report Better Urban Planning.

The draft report suggests different ways of delivering urban planning in New Zealand to meet changing demands. . . 

International butchery at its best – Rod Slater:

 I headed over to Australia last month with our national butchery team, The Pure South Sharp Blacks, and four of our most talented young butchers. Our mission: To compete in the World Butchers’ Challenge – a three hour cutting test match between four nations; Australia, France, the UK and New Zealand.

The curtainraiser was an incredible showdown between an international group of young butchers and butcher apprentices.

The event unfolded with a week touring the best butcher shops in both Sydney and the Gold Coast and as always upon visiting Australia, our delegation was truly impressed by what was on offer. . . 

Image may contain: cloud, sky and outdoor

Farm girl to do list: wake up, kick butt, repeat.


Rural round-up

August 12, 2016

Kiwi world leader in precision farming – Nigel Malthus:

Mid-Canterbury farmer and businessman Craige Mackenzie was recently named the international Precision Farmer of the Year for 2016.

He is travelling to St Louis, Missouri, in early August to receive the award from the US-based PrecisionAg Institute. Nigel Malthus caught up with him before he left.

The award recognises “outstanding people, programmes and organisations making a difference in the precision ag industry”. It is a high honour for a man who was first invited to present a paper at an international conference in 2008 – but who did not then consider himself a precision farmer. . . 

$34-$35 Million FY16 reported earnings forecast for Synlait:

Synlait Milk’s reported net profit after tax (NPAT) for FY16 is forecast to be in the range of $34 – $35 million.

Underlying NPAT for FY16 is forecast to be in the range of $32 – $33 million.

Earnings guidance for the financial year ending 31 July 2016 (FY16) has been provided to clarify market expectations around FY16 performance.

“Our IPO growth projects added the capability and capacity to execute our strategy of making more from milk,” said Graeme Milne, Chairman. . . 

Collaborative group to improve nature protection:

A new collaborative group involving environmental and landowner organisations has come together to improve national policy on protecting nature on private land, Environment Minister Nick Smith announced today at the Environmental Defence Society’s ‘Wild Places’ conference in Auckland.

“New Zealand is globally recognised as a hotspot environmentally for the loss of unique species. One of the most challenging issues for councils and communities is improving the protection of our native species on private land while respecting the reasonable rights of owners to use their land for farming, forestry and other economic activities. This initiative is about bringing environmental groups and landowners together to develop clearer national policy on protecting the plants and animals that make New Zealand special.” . . 

Feds welcome biodiversity forum:

Federated Farmers welcomes the new national biodiversity forum announced by Minister Nick Smith at the Environmental Defence Society conference today.

Federated Farmers spokesperson for biodiversity Chris Allen says we now have the opportunity to come to a common understanding of the pressures and priorities for biodiversity, on land and in water.

“From here we chart a way forward. Part of this will be agreeing on a national policy statement. . . 

Threatened wildlife the winner if National Policy Statement on Biodiversity succeeds:

Forest & Bird is cautiously optimistic that the development of a National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity will help New Zealand’s struggling native wildlife, and streamline the process of protecting the environment.

Minister for the Environment Nick Smith announced today that core stakeholders have been invited to meet over the next 18 months and collaboratively work on a National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity.

A National Policy Statement (NPS) is a statutory document that guides and directs the contents of regional and district plans. All regional and district plans must give effect to the policy. . . 

Entries open for the 2016 Rural Women New Zealand Journalism Award:

Rural Women New Zealand is offering the Journalism Award in a partnership with the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators.

The Award recognises the important contribution women make in the rural community, either through their role in the farming sector or to the general rural environment.

The Award encourages journalists to report on the achievements of women living and working in rural communities. The award recipient will demonstrate excellent understanding of issues and effectively communicate women’s responses to farming, family and business challenges, in a way which inspires and informs the audience. . . 

Changes to kiwifruit regulations:

The Government is updating kiwifruit regulations to ensure the industry is best structured for future growth, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“New amendments to the Kiwifruit Export Regulations will allow Zespri shareholders to consider setting rules around maximum shareholding and eligibility for dividend payments. 

“This will give Zespri more options for managing its shareholding available to any other company operating under the Companies Act, and will ensure that the interests of all shareholders are recognised in any decision affecting them. . . 

Zespri welcomes changes to Kiwifruit Export Regulations:

Zespri welcomes the Government’s announcement that Cabinet has approved amendments to the Kiwifruit Export Regulations.

Zespri Chairman Peter McBride explains these regulatory changes represent the first major review of the regulations since they were put in place 17 years ago.

“The Kiwifruit Regulations have served the industry very well and extensive industry consultation showed more than 97 percent of growers support the industry structure, with minor changes identified to position the industry for the strong growth ahead. . . 

NZKGI welcomes amendments to Kiwifruit Export Regulations:

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) welcomes today’s announcement by the Government to approve amendments to the Kiwifruit Export Regulations.

These changes will ensure a regulatory structure that supports the sustainable, long-term growth of the New Zealand kiwifruit industry into the future.

The announcement today reflects considerable effort and investment by growers into ensuring the industry has the foundations to sustain its future in good and adverse times. . . 

Pahiatua Farmers Enjoy Participating In Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Wairarapa sheep and beef farmers Tim and Nicola Hewitt are proud of the environmental work on their family’s 724ha (640ha effective) property south of Pahiatua. While they were initially reluctant to enter the Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards, they are glad they finally gave it a go.

“We didn’t want to be seen as blowing our own trumpet,” says Tim.

“But ultimately I think farmers have a responsibility to our industry to show that we are trying to do a good job when it comes to the environment.” . . 

New agri-food research centre in Palmerston North:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce has today announced that AgResearch and Massey University will jointly build New Zealand’s largest agri-food research centre in the Food HQ Precinct on the Massey University campus in Palmerston North.

As part of AgResearch’s Future Footprint Programme, AgResearch and Massey University are investing $39 million in the Food Science Research Centre and the design for the new buildings is well underway.

“The research conducted at the Centre will span the agriculture sector from farm to consumer, with a focus on dairy and red meat research,” Mr Joyce says. . . 

Association backs ‘thorough’ maunka honey verification – Alexa Cook:

The Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association says it can now classify what is genuine manuka honey, which it believes is a world first.

John Rawcliffe, from UMF Honey Association, said clarification around what constituted genuine manuka honey would help protect the brand and identify legitimate honey.

“Everyone who puts the word ‘manuka’ on a bottle is required to ensure that it is, so from any export honey the requirement is to show that you are labelling correctly that it is manuka.

“There have been question marks on how to go about it, and today under the UMF quality mark at least we can say ‘this is manuka’.” . . 

Rodent eradication lies in directed vitamin dose:

Rats die of a heart attack within 48 hours of being sprayed with a new chemical formulation invented by a New Zealand – United Kingdom joint venture.

The formula includes Cholecalciferol, better known as vitamin D3 and used as a health supplement in humans.

But Peter Signal, a director of New Zealand company Advanced Animal Technologies (AAT), says it’s the combination of the chemical formula with a specially designed delivery system, called PiedPiper, that has been shown to deliver outstanding results in trials in the UK, Europe and Kenya. . . 


Rural round-up

July 30, 2016

‘Massive’ Chinese stake in the south – Dene Mackenzie:

News of a $200 million milk plant to be built 5km north of Gore has been enthusiastically welcomed by Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks, who yesterday described the announcement as “massive”.

Mataura Valley Milk will have nearly 72% Chinese ownership. Construction of the new plant is planned to start on the site of the former McNab auction yards in October, with a planned commissioning date of August 2018.

Southland dairy farmers will hold 20% of the shares and be the suppliers to the new factory.

Much of the production will be infant milk powder bound for the Chinese market, although other markets will be developed. . . 

Westland Milk Products appoints new Chief Executive:

Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative, has announced the appointment of Toni Brendish as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Westland Chairman Matt O’Regan said today (28 July 2016) that Brendish has extensive leadership experience in the international food and dairy industries, most recently as Vice President of DKSH (Thailand), a large consumer goods distribution business based in Bangkok, where she currently resides.

“Toni’s familiarity with the manufacture, supply chain and sales and marketing of value-added dairy products, including paediatric and nutritional powders and UHT dairy products, will be of immense value to the company as we progress the development and execution of our growth strategy for these businesses,” O’Regan said. . . 

Processing on the horizon – Shannon Gillies:

Waitaki Orchards in Kurow is building a fruit processing plant to avoid a repeat of the loss of up to 50 tonnes of its apricot crop earlier this year because of rain.

The orchard lost most of the crop on nearly half of its 35,000 trees in January after two weeks of near-continuous rain.

The orchard’s smaller crop of nectarines was also badly hit, but other stone fruit, cherries and plums survived the rain. . . 

Upbeat conference attracts 200+ delegates – Allan Barber:

The delegates at the 2016 Red Meat Sector Conference were challenged and entertained by a stimulating range of guest speakers and New Zealand icons the Topp Twins.

Minister for Everything Stephen Joyce gave the welcome speech at the Sunday evening cocktail function and took the opportunity to compliment the industry on its great performance in offsetting the dairy downturn, while encouraging it to work hard on progressing PGP funded projects with 40% of the total already allocated to the red meat sector.

At the formal conference opening the next morning Minister for Food Safety Jo Goodhew made a strong plea for industry government collaboration to protect New Zealand’s food safety and biosecurity reputation. She reinforced her message with the reminder that the consumer is not just interested in product quality and food safety, but also in its provenance, sustainability and the animal welfare standards applied to its production. . . 

Sheep, beef farms must focus on costs – Hugh Stringleman:

Sheep and beef farmers need to focus on onfarm costs in the same way as dairy farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman James Parsons says.

The key focus for his organisation was to help farmers get the average onfarm cost structure down below $3 a kilogram of product, both meat and wool.

When opening the Red Meat Sector conference in Auckland, Parsons said everyone in the sector needed to tell their story better to get product value growth from export markets.

The Red Meat Sector Strategy aimed to increase export earnings from all products – meat, wool and co-products – from $8 billion to $12b. . .

Risk, reward in produce sector – Stepehn Bell:

Huge changes in the booming horticulture sector present export opportunities but also mean considerable risk is developing, Westpac industry economist David Norman says.

Risks included consolidating in fewer markets, growing debt, the potential for more non-tariff barriers and the risk of labour shortages, Norman said in Westpac’s Industry Insights into Horticulture.

The sector was small in terms of jobs with about 39,000 full-time equivalents but accounted for more than 7% of merchandise exports with earnings of $3.4 billion in the year to May. Its exports, accounting for 60% of production, had grown 140% this century compared to 94% for all exports. . .

When a farm kid goes to an animal rights conference… – Laura Bardot:

I grew up on a cattle farm in rural Missouri. I am a classic, stereotypical farm kid that was involved in the local 4-H and FFA. I raised cows, pigs, chickens, rabbits and ducks. I know how to drive a tractor and drove a truck in a field before I drove a car on the highway.

Bullying farmers and ranchers 

I became aware of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) from their pessimistic TV commercials trying to gain more donations by appealing to viewers’ emotions. I knew these animal rights organizations always said they were trying to help dogs and cats, but when they said they needed to “rescue” farm animals, that’s when I started to do research.

In August of 2014, Missouri residents voted on a “Right to Farm Bill”- ensuring Missouri farmers and ranchers are guaranteed the right to farm for forever in the state. I advocated heavily in favor of this bill, yet I met several people who were skeptical, and the majority of those people were misinformed on the bill by anti-agriculture groups. Therefore, I attained a dislike for these groups that felt the need to bully and pressure their way into getting what they think is best for animals – which often does not align with science. . . 

FMG's photo.

NZ predator free by 2050

July 26, 2016

Prime Minister John Key has announced the government’s goal of New Zealand being predator free by 2050.

“While once the greatest threat to our native wildlife was poaching and deforestation it is now introduced predators,” Mr Key says.

“Rats, possums and stoats kill 25 million of our native birds every year, and prey on other native species such as lizards and, along with the rest of our environment, we must do more to protect them.”

Mr Key says these introduced pests also threaten our economy and primary sector, with their total economic cost estimated at around $3.3 billion a year.

“That’s why we have adopted this goal. Our ambition is that by 2050 every single part of New Zealand will be completely free of rats, stoats and possums.

“This is the most ambitious conservation project attempted anywhere in the world, but we believe if we all work together as a country we can achieve it.”

The Government will lead the effort, by investing an initial $28 million in a new joint venture company called Predator Free New Zealand Limited to drive the programme alongside the private sector.

This funding is on top of the $60 to $80 million already invested in pest control by the government every year and the millions more contributed by local government and the private sector.

Predator Free New Zealand Limited will be responsible for identifying large, high value predator control projects and attracting co-investors to boost their scale and success.

The Government will look to provide funding on a one for two basis – that is for every $2 that local councils and the private sector put in, the Government will contribute another dollar.

“This ambitious project is the latest step in the National-led Government’s commitment to protecting our environment.

“We are committed to its sustainable management and our track record speaks for itself.

“This includes the decision to establish the world’s largest fully protected ocean sanctuary in the Kermadecs, better protection in our territorial sea and our efforts to improve the quality of our fresh waterways.

“We know the goal we have announced today is ambitious but we are ambitious for New Zealand.

“And we know we can do it because we have shown time and again what can be achieved when New Zealanders come together with the ambition, willpower and wherewithal to make things happen.”

This is a BHAG – a Big Hairy Audacious Goal and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry is right when she says it will take a team effort to achieve it.

“New Zealand’s unique native creatures and plants are central to our national identity. They evolved for millions of years in a world without mammals and as a result are extremely vulnerable to introduced predators, which kill around 25 million native birds every year,” Ms Barry says. 

“Now is the time for a concerted long-term nationwide effort to rid ourselves of the introduced rats, stoats and possums that have placed so much of our natural heritage in jeopardy.”

Under the strategy the new government company, Predator Free New Zealand Limited, will sponsor community partnerships and pest eradication efforts around the country.

“By bringing together central and local government, iwi, philanthropists, and community groups, we know that we can tackle large-scale predator free projects in regions around New Zealand,” Ms Barry says.

“Project Taranaki Mounga and Cape to City in Hawke’s Bay are great examples of what’s possible when people join forces to work towards a goal not achievable by any individual alone.”

The Predator Free 2050 Project will combine the resources of lead government agencies the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries to work in partnership with local communities.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says the goal of a Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 will have major positive impacts for farmers and the wider primary sector.

“Possums and ferrets are the main carriers of bovine TB, which is a very destructive disease for cattle and deer. In this year’s Budget the Government committed $100 million towards combined eradication efforts with industry starting with cattle and deer by 2026,” Mr Guy says. 

“By pooling our resources and working together we can jointly achieve our goals of both eradicating bovine TB, and achieving a predator free New Zealand.”

Not all the technology to make New Zealand predator free yet exists, and the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge will have an important role in developing the science to achieve the predator free goal.

“New Zealand is a world leader in conservation technology and research,” Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce says. “The Biological Heritage Challenge has an established network of scientists who are ready and willing to take on the Predator Free Challenge. For the first time technology is starting to make feasible what previously seemed like an unattainable dream.”

Predator Free New Zealand Limited will have a board of directors made up of government, private sector, and scientific players. The board’s job will be to work on each regional project with iwi and community conservation groups and attract $2 of private sector and local government funding for every $1 of government funding. 

Four goals for 2025 have been set for the project:

  • An additional 1 million hectares of land where pests have been suppressed or removed through Predator Free New Zealand partnerships
  • Development of a scientific breakthrough capable of removing at least one small mammalian predator from New Zealand entirely
  • Demonstrate areas of more than 20,000 hectares can be predator free without the use of fences
  • Complete removal of all introduced predators from offshore island nature reserves

“These are ambitious targets in themselves, but ones that we are capable of reaching if we work together,” Ms Barry says. 

“New Zealanders have rightly taken great pride in our conservation efforts to date. If we harness the strength of everyone who is keen to be involved in this project, I believe we will achieve the vision of a Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 and make our landscape a safe haven again for our native taonga species.”


Predator free in 34 years is a BHAG but Forest and Bird says it’s possible:

“A country free of predators would allow forests, towns and cities to fill with native bird life such as kiwi, kākāriki (parakeets), pīwakawaka (fantails), tīeke (saddleback), kōkako, and kākā. Other species like tuatara, hihi (stichbirds), toutouwai (robins), insects, and native snails would repopulate forests and other wild places,” says Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell.

“The objective of a predator free country is one that many environmental groups, large and small, have been tirelessly working towards for a long time. However, Forest & Bird intends to look very closely at the detail of how the Government is planning to roll out their vision. For example, if the proposed Predator Free NZ Ltd. company is set up to deliver this programme, what will the role of the Department of Conservation be?”

“Reversing centuries of misguided predator releases and their ongoing devastating effect on our native species and habitats will take commitment, investment, and collaboration, but is entirely achievable by 2050, with the right resources, experts, and framework in place,” says Mr Hackwell. 

“A predator free country will also be of huge value to public health and our agriculture industries which currently spend many millions every year combating waste, contamination, and disease due to pests like rats and possums.”

We spent five days sailing round the Fiordland coast last year, landing occasionally to see native bush much as it would have been when Captain Cook first saw it in 1773. He would have been greeted by bird song but the bush through which we walked was almost silent.

Human and animal predators decimated the bird population and in too many places pests are still winning the battle against the birds.

The Department of Conservation is making a concerted effort to eradicate pests and re-establish species like the kakapo.

That’s not easy on islands and it is even more difficult on the mainland with possums, stoats, ferrets and rats breeding freely and preying on eggs and young birds.

Predator-free fences around bush have been established in several places but the Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 strategy recognises a lot more needs to be done.

It also needs to be done carefully with regard to the whole food chain. Rats prey on mice which prey on birds’ eggs. Eliminating rats would not be enough if that allowed the mouse population to explode.

It will take a lot of money and a lot of work but it will be worth it if it results in burgeoning bird populations with better public and animal health as a bonus from the eradication of pests which wreak havoc on native flora and fauna, and carry diseases.

%d bloggers like this: