Rural round-up

March 26, 2020

COVID-19: Support rural businesses – Rural Women NZ – Pam Tipa:

We need to make sure that our rural businesses are well supported, says Fiona Gower, Rural Women NZ national president.

“With the lack of tourists coming through we need to ensure the small businesses can survive because without them we don’t have a community,” she told Rural News last week.

“Once they are gone it is really hard to get them back.

She says digital communication will also play an important part in the coronavirus response.  . . 

Rural businesses band together – Colin Williscroft:

Rural businesses Farmlands, PGG Wrightson and FarmSource have pledged to work together during the covid-19 response.

In an open letter, the companies’ chief executives said they will harness their collective supply chain to maintain productivity.

“It is time for us all to do what we can to try and continue to support you through these challenging times,” the letter says.

“We are working closely together to ensure that all farmers and growers across New Zealand have the necessary products and supplies to keep your businesses operating.  . . 

Rules driving farmers out – Sudesh Kissun:

New farming rules around sustainability are driving elderly farmers out of the dairy industry, says agri-economist Phil Journeaux.

He says over the past three years, there’s been an increase in farmers, in their 60s and 70s, looking at other options. Journeaux, AgFirst Waikato, spoke at a Smaller Milk and Supply Herds (SMASH) seminar in Te Aroha last week.

Attended by about 50 farmers, the event went ahead despite the coronavirus outbreak. . . 

Maize volume okay but feed still tight – Richard Rennie:

The maize silage supply has shaped up better than might have been expected despite one of the driest summers on record stifling production.

Bill Webb of Bill Webb Feed Solutions near Te Puke said crops on lower, wetter country have performed better this year than last season when heavy rain washed out many crops on the same land.

“But on the higher, drier country the yields have proved to be quite variable. Average block yields would still be 22 tonnes a hectare but there are some on that lower country that would be up to 26t.”  . . 

2020 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards medals winners announced:

In a world that’s a little topsy-turvy it’s wonderful to have an opportunity to celebrate great New Zealand produce with the announcement of 2020 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards medal winners.

Twenty-five judges and eight stewards worked in panels to assess a record 225 food and drink entries at AUT School of Hospitality & Tourism on Saturday 7 March 2020. Following the judges’ assessment of aroma, appearance, taste, texture and quality which accounted for 75% of marks, products were assessed for sustainability and brand story. Shoppers will recognise outstanding food and drink as they proudly wear Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards gold, silver and bronze medals—a guarantee of product quality. . . 

Maori orchardists capitalise on global demand for organic produce – Bonnie Flaws:

Māori orchardist Otama Marere has embraced organic kiwifruit production, converting a total of 7 hectares of its 45 hectare block into organic SunGold kiwifruit, with further conversions being considered.

The trust that manages the land has also held educational days on the land for other Maori kiwifruit growers interested in organic production, says orchard manager Homman Tapsell.

The land, near Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty is a former Māori settlement on the banks of the Kaituna river, with the name coming from a nearby pa site that was occupied by Rangiiwaho and his whanau. Trust members are the descendants of Rangiiwaho, he said. . . 


Rural round-up

March 16, 2020

Rural people show their support – Colin Williscroft:

Hawke’s Bay farmer Mark Warren has posted a call for help on social media in an attempt to let other farmers who are finding life tough know that it’s okay to ask for help.

Warren, who owns Waipari Station in Central Hawke’s Bay, says after a sleepless few hours of the 2am churn and trying to be sensible and realise that his Ts and Ps (temperatures and pressures) are in the red zone, he realised he needed help.

“Although I keep hoping to be back to 12 volts, after a weekend wading through waste-deep mud and pulling lambs out of dams I realise my volt meter is struggling to stay in the safe zone. . .

It was all done on a handshake – Neal Wallace:

Stud breeding has enabled the Robertson family from Southland to settle family members onto farms. But Neal Wallace discovers that is only part of the formula for successful farm succession. Being a tight knit, focused and strong family unit also helps.

It might be dismissed as a cliche but the adage that an apple never falls far from the tree is applicable to the Robertson family from Southland.

The Robertsons farm Duncraigen Farm at Mimihau near Wyndham and the cornerstone of their business are stud Hereford cattle, Romney and Dorset Down stud sheep and various crosses of those breeds. . .

 Attracting more ag students – Peter Burke:

The numbers of students taking up agricultural degrees at Massey University is not really increasing, according to Professor Peter Kemp – head of the School of Agriculture and Environment at Massey.

He says there are isolated areas such as animal science that have gone up. However, in horticulture and general agriculture the numbers are lower than they were a few years ago.

Kemp says this is despite the industry, at the same time, having more jobs. He says it’s really hard to unpack the reasons for this. . . 

Blade shear champ looks to 2022 – George Clark:

South Canterbury world champion blade shearer Allan Oldfield is training strategically in an attempt to retain his title at the next shearing and woolhandling world championships in Scotland in 2022.

Mr Oldfield, who is a finalist in the rural sportsman of the year category in this year’s Rural Games, started competing when he was 16 years old in New Zealand’s intermediate blade shearing grade . .

Business is blooming – Toni Williams’s:

Turley Farms Chertsey, in the heart of Mid Canterbury, is among a growing number of farms turning to sunflowers as a rotation crop to use between plantings.

Sunflowers are good for high oleic sunflower oil, which is high in oleic (monounsaturated) acid (at least 80%), and good as a frying oil. It also has a good shelf life and is used in infant formula.

The farm group, which has properties scattered throughout Canterbury, has planted more than 40ha of sunflowers at the Chertsey site. There are 62,000 sunflower plants per hectare. . .

Aussie flock hits 116 year low – Sudesh Kissun:

Prolonged dry conditions in rural Australia are taking a toll on its national sheep flock.

The latest forecast from Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) says sheep numbers will fall 3.5% this year.

According to MLA’s 2020 Sheep Industry Projection, stock numbers have been dropping due to drought in key sheep producing regions. . .


Rural round-up

February 16, 2020

COVID-19 is a black swan – Keith Woodford:

COVID-19 is the black swan event that no-one saw coming. There is no precedent and so historical models tell us very little as to either the global health implications or the global economic implications. Much of the commentary we are reading is both facile and fallacious, often tailored to fit prior perspectives, and in other cases based on fundamental ignorance.

My own take on events is that the global outcomes are going to be major and that COVID-19 is going to be with us as a global black swan throughout all of this year. Export-focused agri-food will be less affected than most sectors.

For those not familiar with the term ‘black swan’, it is a random event, unable to be given a risk probability in advance, that changes many things. The associated hypothesis is that most of the mega-events that truly change the world are black swans. . .

Blips give trade hiccups – Annette Scott:

Food producers were in a strong position with high expectations of improved global growth heading into 2020 but unexpected disruption has put paid to that, ANZ agribusiness economist Susan Kilsby says.

In a keynote address at the Blinc Innovation 2020 Agri Outlook workshop at Lincoln Kilsby cited coronavirus and its impact on China as the biggest disrupter.

“In 2020 so far we have had missiles in the Middle East, drought, fire, flooding, Trump acquitted of impeachment, Brexit happened and the coronavirus outbreak. . . 

Value in our shared values – Sarah Perriam:

Whose values really matter the most? The food producers’ because they intimately understand the science and challenges the most and should be trusted. Or the consumers who, without the producer, wouldn’t have a business? But then what if we actually share the same values?

This week in Sarah’s Country we hear from Kate Acland, co-owner of Mt Somers Station and a diverse range of value-added products shares her views on the importance of centring our businesses around values.

Sarah Perriam, the host of Sarah’s Country, is this week joined by guest co-host Elizabeth Soal who is the chief executive of Irrigation New Zealand. . . 

Growers want a fair deal – Sudesh Kissun:

It’s been a busy 12 months for Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association (PVGA) first female president Kylie Faulkner.

Since taking over the reins at PVGA, Faulkner has been involved with two key pieces of legislation proposed by the Government: national policy statements on highly productive land and water. Land and water are the backbone of PGVA’s 230 growers and their operations.

They are no minnows when it comes to food production; a recent Deloitte report says while Pukekohe accounts for just 3.8% of the country’s land under fruit and vegetable production, it contributes to 26% of the nation’s value of production of vegetables, and a lesser proportion of fruit. . .

The Garden of Eatin:

Ross Nolly is looking forward to writing ‘maggot farmer’ on forms asking for his occupation.

The former butcher, now writer and photographer, has a small lifestyle block in Taranaki where he tries to live as self-sufficiently as possible.

He hunts for meat, has a food forest, grows his own vegetables, keeps ducks and chickens and farms maggots to feed them. . .

Getting the balance right – Colin Miller:

Many sunsets ago, I learnt from one of the older father figures in my life the ageless truth that, “Balance is the key to life”.

Six simple words easily put together; quick and easy to read, but so much harder to live! I well remember thinking at the time; ‘Huh … whatever is that all about?’ I didn’t get it at all back then. If it sounds a little patronising for you at the moment, then how about this old adage from yesteryear – “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.

Yep, balance is the key to life; these six simple words are surely packed with wisdom we humans need to hear. I have seen too many examples of exactly this gone wrong; and sometimes up close and personal with good friends and family. The end results have at times been tragic. . .


Rural round-up

February 5, 2020

It’s tinder dry – Sonita Chandar:

As temperatures soar and paddocks start to frizzle farmers in Northland are destocking and buying in feed while firefighters are nervously standing by waiting for the sirens to go.

“You could say we are pretty much on edge and on constant standby,” Northland deputy principal fire officer Wayne Martin says.

“Whenever we are called to an event we pretty much throw everything we have got at it to make sure we don’t end up with an Australia-type incident, especially if we have to travel a fair distance to get there. We will send the helicopter out as well to reduce the risk of it spreading and to contain the loss of acreage.” . . 

Hard yards on family farm pays off – Sudesh Kissun:

Harvesting 15 tonnes of cabbage in hailstorms and hand weeding paddocks under a scorching sun made a perfect training ground for Austin Singh Purewal.

The 18-year-old, who won the NZ Young Vegetable Grower of the Year award two months ago, says the hard work on the family farm is paying off.

Purewal, the youngest-ever to win the title, told Hort News that although growing up on the family farm wasn’t easy, he enjoyed the challenges. . . 

LIC delivers steady first half – Hugh Stringleman:

LIC has delivered a steady interim result in line with expectations during the 2020 financial year, including a small rise in revenue and a small drop in first-half earnings.

Revenue in the six months to November 30 was $163 million, up 1.4% from the corresponding period last year.

Earnings before interest and tax were $43.1m, down 6.5% and net profit after tax was $30.3m, down 7.6%.

The artificial breeding and farmer information company said earnings and profit were down because of the timing of expenses. . . 

Two cents’ worth – beetle mania – Nikki Mandow:

One man’s decades-long fight to deal with NZ’s farm effluent problems by bringing dung beetles into the country

As a child, scientist Dr Shaun Forgie was obsessed with snakes, so it was unfortunate he grew up in one of the few countries in the world that don’t have any. Instead he grubbed about in Ruakaka looking for other creepy crawlies, then completed a science degree specialising in insects.

He had planned a masters on parasitic wasps and their impact on fly strike in sheep. As one does. But one day in the lab, Forgie had a Road to Damascus moment that was to change his life, but could potentially have a far greater influence – producing a major change in New Zealand’s farming ecosystems.  . .

No sausages or salami?! The country-of-origin regulations let pork eaters down – Hilary Pearson:

Finally, New Zealand is getting country-of-origin food labelling. But the recently released draft regulations are a missed opportunity to provide consumers with clarity around where their food comes from and how it’s produced, writes Hilary Pearson of Freedom Farms.

It seems a bit laborious to rehash the already storied history of the Consumers’ Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Act. At this point it feels like it’s been talked about for eleventy-seven gazillion years. The bill was passed by parliament at the end of November 2018 and now, 12 months later, draft regulations have been released so we know what it’s going to look like in practice. And it’s clear it’s not as robust as pork eaters need it to be. 

In many ways we’ve timed our run poorly in terms of getting this legislation across the line. In 2018, when the bill was going through the select committee stage, some people delighted in telling me that no one really cared that much about how their food is produced, so country of origin wasn’t a big deal.

We’re now 18 months down the road from the select committee consultation and suddenly one in three New Zealanders are reportedly thinking about reducing their meat consumption because of the environmental impact of how it is produced. . . 

Rural golf course where sheep graze is teed-up for sale:

A quirky provincial golf course where sheep graze the fairways to keep the grass under control has been placed on the market for sale.

The Tumahu Golf Club near Okato in Western Taranaki is an 9-hole course where players have been driving down the fairways and putting on the greens for some 70 years. As a classic Kiwi ‘rural’ course, sheep graze the fairways, with knee-high electric wire fencing keeping stock off the putting greens.

However, with many Tumahu Golf Club members now aged in their 60s and 70s, the steady decline in core membership has seen the club’s fortunes wane. Big swinging Tumahu Golf Club members played their last club day just before Christmas. The course remained open until just after the start of the new year to allow for holiday golfers to get a final round in. The course has now officially closed down. . . 


Rural round-up

January 18, 2020

Disease’s cost killed meat firm – Jacob McSweeny:

Meat production at a 100-year-old Dunedin company has ceased and 13 staff have been made redundant but the owner of The Craft Meat Company says the business will live on.

The decision came after meat producers’ profits were cut by rising costs due to a global shortage of protein triggered by the African swine fever epidemic, owner Grant Howie said.

‘‘[It was] the most gut-wrenching thing I’ve ever had to do,’’ Mr Howie said of the decision to axe staff. . . 

Sage softens lease land changes – Neal Wallace:

The Government appears to have softened the sharpest edges of proposed changes to the management of pastoral lease land while confirming farming will continue in the South Island high country.

The bill detailing changes to the Crown Pastoral Lands Act appears to back down on initial proposals that included greater political oversight of the activities of the Commissioner of Crown Lands, traditionally an independent position.

It seems also to accept submissions from farming sectors that lessees have legal rights to pasturage and quiet enjoyment of their land, which would have been compromised by the original recommendations. . . 

Fonterra pioneer expects much better:

One of the architects of Fonterra says he’s very disappointed with the co-op’s performance over the years.

Tirau farmer, Tony Wilding says farmers expected better when they formed the co-op in 2001. “It’s not the performance we had in mind when we formed Fonterra,” he told Rural News.

Wilding received a New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year’s honours list for his contribution to the dairy sector and community. . .

New chief executive for Meat Industry Association – Sudesh Kissun:

The Meat Industry Association has appointed Sirma Karapeeva as its new chief executive.

Karapeeva, who is currently the Meat Industry Association’s (MIA) trade and economic manager, has been with the trade association since 2015. She replaces Tim Ritchie who is retiring after 12 years in the role.

Karapeeva, who takes over in April, held a variety of trade, policy and regulatory roles in Government before joining MIA.

Kiwifruit prices hit record high:

Kiwifruit prices were at an all-time high in December 2019, with prices for seasonal fruit and vegetables also up, Stats NZ said today.

“Kiwifruit prices rose 32 percent in December to a weighted average price of $8.27 per kilo, an all-time high,” acting consumer prices manager James Griffin said.

“This compares with $4.24 in December last year.” . . 

Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award nominations open:

Nominations to a national award that recognises dairy farmers who demonstrate leadership in their approach to sustainable dairying and who are ambassadors for the industry open January 15th.

The Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award was 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. Entry for this award is by nomination only via dairyindustryawards.co.nz. . . 


Rural round-up

January 13, 2020

OZ farmers suffer heavy losses – NFF – Sudesh Kissun:

Australian farmers have lost significant livestock in bushfires raging across the country, says National Farmers’ Federation President Fiona Simson. 

Simson says many farmers had lost homes, livestock and infrastructure.

“While we don’t know exact numbers yet, there has been a significant loss of livestock in parts of the country, most recently in areas such as northern Victoria and the south coast of NSW,” she says. . . 

‘Sheer weight’ of multiple issues taking toll on farmers – Sally Rae:

The ‘‘sheer weight’’ of issues facing farmers in Otago and Southland is taking a serious toll on their mental health and wellbeing, a Beef + Lamb New Zealand Economic Service report says.

The annual lamb crop report, released this week, said morale among sheep and beef farmers in the two regions was low.

The implications for farming practices and effects on profitability of government policies announced affecting the sector were unclear but likely to be far reaching.

While policies covering freshwater and greenhouse gas emissions were prominent, the likes of Mycoplasma bovis, reform of the National Animal Identification and Tracing scheme, tightening of bank lending arrangements, the One Billion Trees programme, winter grazing practices, biodiversity, urban perception of farming, and how to manage succession were also having notable impacts. . . 

New boss sees pastoral potential – Richard Rennie:

The vast grassland expanses of South America offer some exciting opportunities for Gallagher’s new general manager Darrell Jones.

Jones is a couple of months into his new role but almost 20 years into working for the agri-tech company. 

Formerly the company’s national sales manager he is excited by what his recent business excursion to South America revealed.

“We have had a presence in South America for some time but everything sold over there is basically from behind the counter. 

“We want to really work on what our point of difference is for electric fence systems there and a big part of that is farmer education.  . .

Farmlands moves focus forward – Neal Wallace:

New Farmlands chairman Rob Hewett wants the farm supplies retailer to shift its focus to meeting the anticipated needs of farmers five years in the future.

Given the requirement for farmers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address freshwater quality Farmlands needs to help its 70,000 shareholder-owners make those adjustments and that means supplying advice, services and technology they will need in the future.

“Farmers want a road map and hope and we are moving the company from being very good at providing something farmers needed five years ago to provide things we anticipate farmers will need five years from now.” . . 

Mechanisation new for the US – Tessa Nicholson:

The impetus behind developing the Klima stripper back in 2007 was a continual lack of labour during the pruning season.

Growers and companies all over the country were facing shortages and every year there was the underlying fear that pruning would not be completed in time for bud burst.

The Klima quickly caught the attention of grape growers in both New Zealand and Australia, but breaking into the US has until recently been a difficult one, says Klima founder Marcus Wickham. . . 

Australian celebrity chef samples both sides of the dining experience at Walter Peak High Country Farm:

Visiting Australian celebrity chef Justin North enjoyed a chance to sample the gourmet BBQ lunch menu before heading to the kitchen to work with Executive Chef Mauro Battaglia at Walter Peak High Country Farm in Queenstown on Tuesday 7 January.

North says the first impression when walking through the doors into the Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant is the absolutely beautiful aroma.

“Credit to Executive Chef Mauro Battaglia and his whole team as it’s clear that a lot of love, care and thought goes into the food. You can see there is such a lovely culture within the kitchen team, and everyone is so passionate about what they are doing. You can tell it’s more than just a job to everyone.” . . 

 

The insidious flaw in the “Less Meat” argument — we need soil, not soy – Seth Itzkan:

The insidious flaw with the “less meat” argument is that it implies that meat is bad (when, of course, it isn’t) while looking the other way as it advances soil-depleting, GMO soy, faux meat products at the expense of nutritionally superior, regenerative beef and dairy alternatives that are essential for enhancing soil carbon, reviving pasture ecosystems, and just now gaining a foothold in supermarkets.

What Burger King and other franchises should do instead of carrying Impossible Foods paddies, is to insist that each region source at least 10% of their meats locally and via ecologically restorative production. That would jumpstart the food revolution genuinely poised to deliver a safe climate. . .

 


Rural round-up

January 3, 2020

Honour well deserved say sharemilkers – Sudesh Kissun:

The New Zealand order of merit awarded to Tirau farmer Tony Wilding in the New Years Honours List has been hailed by sharemilkers.

Federated Farmers National Sharemilkers Section chairman, Richard McIntyre says the honour is well deserved.

“Tony is an absolute gentleman who has represented the sharemilker farm owners well, for the betterment of the sharemilking industry,” he told Rural News online. . . 

Land Champion: love of land and bush passed on – Richard Rennie:

A dairy farming couple’s love of the bush has helped inspire the same passion in a younger generation, preserved some valuable bird species and also promoted a more sustainable way to farm.

Maggy and Karl Buhler of Pongakawa in Bay of Plenty are quietly humble about their efforts over the past 40 years to plant more of the country in native bush. 

But the view from their homestead high above their 100ha dairy farm nicely frames the work that has accounted for about half that period.  . .

 

Land champion: ag passion fires teacher’s mission – Richard Rennie:

Kerry Allen’s efforts to put agriculture and the primary sector back on the radar for secondary school pupils is starting to pay dividends, providing the sector with a growing pool of young talent that risked drying up several years ago.

Allen has been agribusiness curriculum director at St Paul’s Collegiate School in Hamilton for the past three years. 

It is thanks to her efforts the college pioneered New Zealand’s first secondary school agribusiness course.  . . 

FAR researcher of the year – Sudesh Kissun:

The Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) says it has named one of its own as their 2019 Researcher of the Year.

Diana Mathers, who, joined FAR as cropping systems research Mmnager in 2010, has worked to support cropping farmers in the areas of economic and environmental sustainability.

FAR chief executive Alison Stewart says Mather’s award recognises the significant impact she has had in these areas. . . 

Axemen hit halfway mark in Christmas circuit tour – Laura Smith:

Tired arms and sore backs were in store for Southern Axemen’s Christmas Circuit competitors as the tour reached its midway point in Riverton yesterday.

The circuit started in Cromwell last Friday and is set to end in Tuatapere tomorrow. Competitor John Broughton, of Manapouri, said about 40 people had competed at each event.

Mr Broughton said he competed in several events, including the standing block and “pretty much all the sawing”. . . 

Brompton rat controlled grass fires – Stephen Burns:

It was a simple machine, designed and built in a station workshop in western Queensland, and out of fashion now but for many years the Brompton Rat was successful in containing many grass fires on the open plains.

Timely we should be talking about bush fire control, with fires raging out of control along the ranges, and the fire season hasn’t yet started on the plains.

For many years, various inventions were developed each with distinct degrees of success until Gordon Gray and his father Harry designed and built the Brompton Rat on the property Brompton near Mutaburra. . .

 


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