Rural round-up

December 18, 2017

Let’s crunch the facts and the debate on irrigation – AgriView NZ:

The Labour Government’s decision to cut additional funding for new irrigation plans has sparked debate over the value of irrigation to agriculture and the economy in recent weeks. According to the 2017 Manifesto on water policy, Labour will “Honour existing commitments, but remove Crown subsidies for the funding of further water storage and irrigation schemes”, a measure falling under the government’s wider aims to improve water quality nationwide, and “restore our rivers and lakes to a truly swimmable state within a generation”.

For Dr. Mike Joy, senior lecturer in Ecology and Zoology at Massey University’s Institute of Agriculture and Environment, the negative environmental impacts of intensive irrigated systems are undeniable. . . 

Lepto no longer men-only disease – Peter Burke:

With more women working in farming, more are contracting the disease leptospirosis, says the president of Rural Women NZ, Fiona Gower.

She told Dairy News, at a recent international conference on leptospirosis in Palmerston North, that the changing nature of the workforce on farms and in the rural sector generally means this disease is no longer a probably only for men.

Women are getting to work on farms in their own right or in a partnership, “feeding calves, milking cows, doing work with the stock — much more hands on these days”. . . 

The AstinoTM: New Zealand’s newest sheep breed moves wool up the value chain:

Developed by wool innovation specialists Lanaco, The Astino is bred specifically for the company’s premium, wool-based healthcare products – offering farmers the opportunity for better wool returns.

Breeder Andy Ramsden says Astino represents a positive step-change in the industry.

“It’s increasingly clear that supplying generic wool on the open market is not sustainable. The way forward for farmers is twofold – transitioning to innovative new breeds that are branded and controlled and forming partnerships with manufacturers like Lanaco, who have the global reach and marketing capability to earn a premium”. . . 

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Did ewe know . . .  wool clothing helps your skin breathe and regulate temperate better.

New national Dairying Award announced:

A new national award will recognise dairy farmers who demonstrate leadership in their approach to sustainable dairying and who are ambassadors for the industry.

The Fonterra Farm Source Responsible Dairying Award has been introduced by the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards to recognise those dairy farmers who are respected by their farming peers and their community for their attitude and role in sustainable dairying.

Rachel Baker, NZDIA Executive Chair, says that farmers are being encouraged to share stories of how they are farming responsibly, both environmentally and socially. . . 

Beef reads into the headlines – Shan Goodwin:

BY 2020, health related expenditure in Australia is expected to overtake the spend on restaurants and hotels.

Meanwhile, incomes are growing fast in Asia.

Dishonest companies are being exposed online.

Consumers are looking for country of label origins on food packaging.

And the plethora of competing sources of information means nobody knows what or who to trust.

As inconceivable at it may seem, these apparent peripheral tidbits all have quite the potential to influence the future fortunes of the Australian cattle producer. . .

We must not take NAFTA’s blessings for granted – Tim Burrack:

How is NAFTA good for your children and grandchildren?” A very direct – and insightful – question asked by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer at a recent round of NAFTA talks, according to an account in last week’s Wall Street Journal.

Patrick J. Ottensmeyer, a railroad executive who described the incident, offered his own response in an op-ed. He cited the usual statistics: U.S. farm exports to Canada and Mexico have quadrupled since NAFTA lowered tariffs in the 1990s. Without this trade agreement, he wrote, the billions of dollars in goods and services that we now sell to Canadians and Mexicans “would be replaced by products from other markets,” such as Europe and South America.

All that’s true. I’ll even take it a step further: Without NAFTA, America’s agriculture-dependent heartland would sink into a new depression. . . 

Early releases and empty aisles: is this the beginning of the wnd to the #StockShowLife? – Uptown Farms:

The North American International Livestock Exposition is wrapping up and as is customary, my newsfeed is filled with pictures from the green shavings.

There’s an emerging theme to this year’s photos and posts- one of emptiness. The show introduced a new, shortened schedule for the first time in years, drastically reducing the number of animals and people that held over to the end.

Those exhibitors still left are posting pictures of empty barn aisles and vacant ringside seats, even while Supreme Champions are being selected.

It’s heartbreaking. . . 


Rural round-up

January 9, 2014

New Zealand farmers John Falkner, Simon Berry set to market cheese made with deer milk – Dominique Schwartz:

A New Zealand farmer and a cheese maker have joined forces to craft what they hope will be the world’s first commercially produced cheese using deer milk.

Scientists say deer milk is rich in nutrients and protein, and could also have wide-ranging therapeutic and cosmetic uses.

Milking sheds are dotted across New Zealand’s rolling pastures, but there are none quite like Clachanburn Station possibly anywhere in the world.

At Clachanburn, in the Central Otago region of the South Island, it is not cows clattering through the milking runs but deer. . .

Farmers show resilience to adapt to changing world – Tim Mackle:

A New Year has arrived, and I’m pleased. Time to move on from 2013.

Not that all went badly last year. Not at all. The dairy industry and Fonterra in particular were in the news a lot – but maybe that helped New Zealanders understand us better.

We came through it together and perhaps, out of it all, we know a little bit more about each other.

2013 may have started badly for farmers with the drought, but it ended well weather-wise and with a positive milk price forecast. . .

Milking goats makes $en$e – Gerald Piddock:

Milking time at the Wade family’s dairy goat farm is a noisy affair.

The chorus of baas from the hundreds of impatient goats jostling outside in the yards sees to that.

“Come on, girls,” dairy milker Gary Bowman says as he opens the gate to the milking shed.

The noise stops as the goats rush forward, knowing a free meal of grain is on offer, while Gary and the other shed workers quickly attach the milking cups to the goats teats.

The process is over very quickly. . .

An oldie but a goodie – Mark Griggs:

BREEDING first-cross (Border Leicester/Merino) ewes as the “traditional mothers” of the prime lamb industry is still consistently profitable.

But Narromine area breeder, Warren Skinner, is worried the time-honoured and proven cross may die out with the older generation, who have traditionally bred that way.

“Most of the traditional breeders have stuck with the first-cross job, but I worry once this generation gets older, the young people that take over may move away and to different breeds on offer,” he said. . .

Stock & Land notches up its century – Alisha Fogden:

IN 2014, Stock & Land celebrates 100 years, and to mark this momentous occasion we have many centenary events and initiatives planned for the coming 12 months.

This marks the start of our weekly look-back pages where we choose a similar date from a corresponding year to show how farming and the paper have changed – or not.

Today, we look back half a century to January 8, 1964, when the paper still had that traditional old newsletter feel in black and white but had already begun to include more pictures and illustrations. . .

Heinz plant closure part of trend squeezing farmers out of Canada’s system, says NFU:

The closure of the Heinz ketchup plant announced last week is the latest of several Canadian food processing plants bought and then closed by investors that move production to other countries in pursuit of higher profits. The trend bodes ill for Canadians who want to eat food that is grown and processed within our borders, and is a direct result of the federal government’s policy drive to expand agri-food exports at the expense of Canadian food sovereignty.

“Since 1989, Heinz’s Leamington plant has shut down the pickle line, its peach, baked bean, soups and vegetable canning lines, the frozen vegetable product line and its vinegar operation. From hundreds of products, now all that is left is baby food and tomato product lines. Even so, the plant was still very profitable,” said Mike Tremblay, Essex County Local NFU-O President. “The new owners want even higher profits, and free trade deals just make it easier for processors to pick up and move, leaving our farmers with no market for their tomatoes and other vegetables, and putting hundreds of local people out of work.” . . .

New blood for farming :

THREE NEW entrants to agriculture, all students at Scotland’s Rural College, have been shortlisted to progress in the prestigious Lantra Scotland Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards – although none have a family background in farming.

Eighteen year-old Kaleem Shaikh grew up and went to school in suburban Uddingston, on the outskirts of Glasgow, but already he breeds pedigree sheep, goats and keeps hens on rented land and has emerged as ‘Best student’ in his year-group at the SRUC Oatridge campus in West Lothian.

Kaleem has been selected in the National Certificate Agriculture category and has moved on to study for a Higher National Certificate at Oatridge.

Ashley Stamper, a 21- year-old from Corstorphine, in Edinburgh, first learnt about farming by visiting a nearby farm as a child to bottle-feed pet lambs and has now completed a Modern Apprenticeship in Agriculture at SRUC Barony Campus, in Dumfries.

She works as a shepherdess and stockperson for a farm services company, based at Hexham, in Northumberland. She goes forward in the Scottish Vocational Qualification in Agriculture Level 3 category.

Cameron Smith, also 18, got interested in farming when his family moved from Coatbridge, via a spell in Northern Ireland, to Doune, in Perthshire, and he made friends with schoolmates who were from farming backgrounds. . . .

Photo: 10 Reasons to thank a farmer on this Monday morning! (From Farm and Dairy)


Ag commodities down but will lead 2009 rebound

December 4, 2008

The ANZ Commodities Price Index fell 7.2% in November, contributing to a 21% fall in four months.

Prices for dairy products fell 12% and have almost halved from their record levels a year ago. Prices for pelts tumbled 41%, the biggest decline among products tracked in the index. Beef, wool, lumber and aluminium all fell more than 10%. Seafood prices dropped for the first time in 18 months, sliding 0.6%. Lamb rose 4.3% and kiwifruit gained 0.3%.

Producers were cushioned from the slide in commodity prices by the weakening New Zealand dollar and the ANZ New Zealand Dollar Commodity Price Index was down only 1.8% in the latest month.

“Although the currency softened further in the month, it failed to match the drop in value of the commodities that we monitor,” ANZ economist Steve Edwards said in a statement. “It is clear that a weaker currency is acting as a buffer to falling commodity prices.”

Prices in yesterday’s on-line auction by Fonterra continued to slide with an average price of $4203.50 ($US2223) a tonne, 14% lower than last month’s auction and a fall of 49% since July.

Fonterra commercial director of GlobalTrade Guy Roper said the economic crisis had resulted in a significant drop in the demand for dairy commodities and a continued decline in prices had been expected.

“There will continue to be downward pressure on prices, until either the supply of product declines, or buyers have confidence that the global economic situation will improve,” Roper said.

Fonterra has been criticised for its auction which some feel is leading the market down. The Bull Pen disucsses that here.

However, the news isn’t all bad. Stock & Land  expects agricultural commodities to rebound next year.

After the dust settles from the sell off across commodities triggered by the global financial crisis, agricultural commodities will benefit from a secure demand outlook and tight supplies to outperform metals and oil in 2009.
Regardless of the gloomy macroeconomic outlook people still need to eat; therefore agricultural commodities will be more resilient during the economic downturn.

“Demand for agricultural commodities tends to be less elastic, less responsive to economic factors, more responsive to population,” said Lawrence Eagles, a commodities analyst at J.P. Morgan.

 

That’s encouraging because the MAF Briefing to Incoming Ministers warns the outlook is uncertain:

 

Over the next 20 years, New Zealand’s food and fibre producing capability will become increasingly important. Globally, rising population and economic growth is expected to increase demand for agricultural and forestry products. At the same time land and resources, such as freshwater, available for food and fibre production worldwide is likely to decline.

Despite this favourable long-term outlook for New Zealand’s primary production sectors, our industries, environment and broader society face a complex set of challenges to reap future opportunities. These challenges are exacerbated by the current global financial crisis that continues to unfold with uncertain impacts and duration.

Added to that is the growing threat of drought.

The contrast between irrigated and dryland in North Otago increases by the day, showing how badly we need rain and most of the east coast of both islands is similarly desperate for rain.

 


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