Rural round-up

20/12/2020

Why banning RSE workers here won’t improve wages for local agricultural workers – Eric Crampton:

They thought banning migrant farm labour would boost wages for native-born farm workers. They were wrong. And New Zealand may be getting ready to repeat their mistake.

On December 31, 1964, the United States ended the bracero agreements between the US and Mexico, after two years of tightened restrictions. The agreements, which began in 1942, regulated the movement of lower-skilled migrant labour – particularly for seasonal agricultural work. By the early 1960s, about half a million Mexican farm workers migrated to American farms for seasonal agricultural work on contracts lasting from six weeks to six months.

The Kennedy administration believed that the bracero agreements reduced American farm labour wages. It also did not help that the senior commissioner in the Department of Labour investigation of the bracero programme was a eugenicist who believed Mexicans were genetically inferior. . .

How $2 a punnet of strawberries is bad for kiwi growers

A punnet of strawberries for $2 at the supermarket may be a bargain for consumers, but it’s “particularly painful” for Kiwi growers, Michael Ahern says.

“Growers are not happy at all, in fact some of them are opening up their gardens to pick-your-own early to find some way to gain recovery by keeping costs down,” Ahern, who is executive manager for Strawberry Growers New Zealand, told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

“That’s not the way they want to do it – but they’re professional growers and they want normal, orthodox channels to market on a weekly basis.”

“They’re big boys and girls and they can suck it up to a certain extent – but this one is particularly painful.” . .

Agility key to Alliance success board chair says – Louise Steyl:

Agility is Alliance Group’s biggest strength as it battles trade issues around the world, board chairman Murray Taggart says.

Apart from the obvious impacts of Covid-19, issues like Great Britain exiting the European Union posed potential export risks, he said.

“Trade relationships always wax and wane.”

But the Chinese market remained the meat processing co-operative’s most important market. . .

A gut feeling backed by science – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Sheep breeding has become a science, and with technology and stock management, these three elements have combined in the sheep breeder of today.

For South Otago farmer Garth Shaw, it began with the Coopworth, the result of crossing the Romney and Border Leicester, developed at Lincoln College as a dual-purpose breed in 1950.

The Shaws began farming at Wharetoa, which means strong house in Maori, near Clydevale in 1966. They started breeding Coopworth rams in 1975.

“We have always run a commercial flock alongside our stud flock and have used the commercial flock to benchmark as new breeds and markets become available and also to test our genetic progress within a commercial setting,” Mr Shaw said. . . 

Shift from town to country rewarding:

Nicky Tily works with up to 4000 pigs — and loves every minute of it.

Ms Tily (23), who grew up in urban Christchurch and worked in the food service sector, is now a junior stockperson.

“Pigs are so intelligent. I enjoy everything about the job.”

She had always liked the idea of working with animals or on a farm and considered a career in vet nursing. However, having completed a six-month course, gaining a National Certificate in Animal Husbandry, she decided against vet nursing.

Her first job in the farming sector was with Mapua stud at Southbridge, which included a sheep stud, dairy grazing, cropping and a 120 sow outdoor piggery. She enjoyed all of the work, but particularly working with the pigs. . . 

Picking a poinsettia – Heather Barnes:

Poinsettias may traditionally be red, but as I learned on a recent visit to Homewood Nursery and Garden Center, these holiday decorating staples come in many colors.

Unlike many flowering shrubs (yes, poinsettia is a shrub), their color doesn’t come from the flowers.  The colorful part is a bract, or modified leaf.  

I have a cat who loves to eat plants, so I’ve never bought poinsettias because I thought they were poisonous.  I thought wrong. The American Veterianary Medical Assocaition says they can cause a skin irriation but rates them a lower risk than other holiday plants. While people shouldn’t eat them either, Poison Control says the plant “can be irritating but it is not fatal if eaten.”  The sap can cause a skin rash on people wo are allergic to latex, since both have some of the same proteins. . .

 


Rural round-up

16/06/2019

Industry shifts from volume to value – Sally Rae:

A long-term “erosion of confidence” in the primary sector needs to be reversed, KPMG global head of agribusiness Ian Proudfoot says.

The 2019 KPMG Agribusiness Agenda was launched this week at National Fieldays at Mystery Creek, the 10th year it has been published.

In his introduction to the report, Mr Proudfoot said confidence was low despite the progress the industry had made over the last year.

Efforts to encourage farmers and growers to celebrate their role as food producers had not fallen on deaf ears but the positive messages had, on occasion, been “drowned out by a chorus of criticism”, most of which had been unbalanced, he said.

“If you have been told for years that you are the past, that you are bad for the environment, that you underpay your labour, even if you know these claims to be inherently wrong, many end up believing them. It is this long-term erosion of confidence that needs to be reversed.” . . 

Massey finds a new model for baby beef – Richard Rennie:

Twin drivers of environmental and welfare pressure on farmers when dealing with bobby calves prompted Massey University researchers to explore options that will also deliver an economic return to farmers.

Two years into the New Generation Beef project, team leader Dr Nicola Schreurs said initial results indicate taking bobby calves with Jersey genetics and rearing them to eight, 10 or 12 months for processing delivers a product with market potential.

“We are also being careful to distinguish New Generation beef from veal, which, technically, under European Union definitions, it is. But veal brings its own often negative connotations we would rather avoid.” . . 

Changes are needed at Landcorp – Alan Emmerson:

I’ve just read the Landcorp, Pamu as they like to be known, annual report. In a word, it is nauseating.

They start by telling us their vision is to be the premium supplier of meat, milk and fibre for niche markets. 

“We pursue this vision with strategies based on Pamu’s six capitals – strategies for excellence in farming and adding value for products, investors, people and the environment.”

It is an 82-page, heady tome telling us, among other things, they’re supplying markets in Australia, China, Europe North America and more.

The acting chairman and chief executive told us “Pamu enters its fifth year of delivering on our strategy of operational excellence in creating value beyond the farm gate with real momentum.”

They’re into farm wellbeing, gender equity, animal welfare, environmental assessments farm by farm, (who isn’t) and relationships with tangata whenua.

They’ve surveyed stakeholders including our old mates at Greenpeace. What they could add they didn’t say. . . 

NZ primary industry exports seen rising 7.1% this year – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – The government expects primary industry export revenue will rise 7.1 percent to $45.7 billion in the June year, but predicts growth will be flatter in the future.

The lift marks the “second straight year of substantial export growth,” said Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor when he presented the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Situation and Outlook report for June 2019 at Fieldays. Export revenue was $42.7 billion in the prior year, up 11.7 percent. . .

 

The man who helped feed the world – Tim Harford:

In the early 1900s, newlyweds Cathy and Cappy Jones left Connecticut in the US to start a new life as farmers in north-west Mexico’s Yaqui Valley, a little-known dry and dusty place, a few hundred kilometres south of the Arizona border.

When Cappy died in 1931, Cathy decided to stay on. By then she had a new neighbour: the Yaqui Valley Experiment Station, a grand agricultural research centre with impressive stone pillars, and cleverly designed irrigation canals.

For a while, the centre raised cattle, sheep and pigs, and grew oranges, figs and grapefruit.

But by 1945, the fields were overgrown, the fences fallen and the windows shattered. The station was infested with rats. . .  

Strawberry growers asked to vote on a levy proposal:

Strawberry Growers New Zealand Board is asking growers to vote on a proposal to apply for a levy on strawberries, with voting papers going out today.

Following extensive consultation with growers and other stakeholders, Strawberry Growers New Zealand (SGNZ) are calling for all commercial strawberry growers to vote in a referendum to determine if there is a clear mandate from growers to apply for a commodity levy.

A levy rate of $26 per 1000 strawberry plants sold is being proposed, with support being sought to apply to the Minister for Agriculture for a Commodity Levies Order on strawberries. . . 


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