Rural round-up

15/09/2022

What the ‘F’ is going on? – Mark Daniel:

Rabobank’s Emma Higgins recently outlined some of the current headaches facing the agriculture sector.

At the Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA) Conference, held in Christchurch, she focused on a number of ‘F’ words – freight, fuel, fertiliser, feed, folk and farmer spending.

Higgins looked at the state of the global shipping industry and what had happened pre- and post-Covid, covering a period from early 2018 to June 2022. She explained that during the pre-Covid era, freight rates had remained largely static with most companies making little or no margin. However, since early 2020, rates had skyrocketed, alliances and consolidations had become the norm and major players were reporting margins approaching 40% or more.

Higgins warned those needing to ship goods in or out of the country not to expect freight costs to return to pre-Covid levels, even though there had been a recent softening of rates. She also noted there is an ongoing problem with scheduling reliability – boats arriving on time. Pre-Covid this was typically at 85%, but more lately was sitting at 35%. . . 

Many flow-on effects if scroll plains classified as wetlands – Shawn McAvinue:

A Maniototo Basin farmer fears proposed new freshwater rules will remove an important tool used to protect a unique scroll plain.

Puketoi Station owner Emma Crutchley said her nearly 3000ha sheep, beef and arable farm was often dry.

About 350mm of rain fell each year on the farm, which is about a 20-minute drive southwest of Ranfurly.

When it tips down, the overflow of the meandering Taieri River transforms a low-lying area of her farm to a “large, slow-moving lake”. . . 

Winter crop consent logjam ‘could reach 10,000’ – Neal Wallace:

Delays in finalising freshwater farm plans threaten bureaucratic snarl-up.

An estimated 10,000 farmers may require resource consent to intensively winter stock on crops next year.

A meeting this week between farming groups and the Ministry for the Environment (MFE) will confirm if a compromise can be found to the consenting requirement, which many fear will overwhelm regional council staff.

It has been estimated that 2000 farmers in Southland and 1000 in Waikato will require resource consent, and farming leaders calculate that nationally, potentially a further 7000 may also need consent. . . 

Ex-Feds dairy boss makes it 3-way battle for DairyNZ board seats – Sudesh Kissun:

Former Federated Farmers leader Chris Lewis is one of three candidates confirmed for DairyNZ director elections.

The Waikato farmer will take on sitting directors Tracy Brown, Waikato and Elaine Cook, Bay of Plenty, both retiring by rotation and seeking re-election.

Voting starts September 19 and ends on October 17. Results will be announced at DairyNZ’s annual meeting in Invercargill the next day.

Lewis, who milks 970 cows at Pukeatua, believes he will bring a farmer’s perspective to the board. . . 

Vets hold the line against M bovis – Mary van Andel :

Local vets are putting the country on track to be the world’s first to eradicate the disease.

Much of the work veterinarians do is behind the scenes but underpins aspects of our economy, environment and way of life. Across New Zealand, veterinarians provide valuable technical expertise and are recognised as trusted advisers on a range of issues, including animal health and welfare, and disease surveillance and investigation. They play a key role in our biosecurity system.

A debt of gratitude is owed to the private veterinarian who first identified Mycoplasma bovis in NZ in 2017. Since those early and often difficult days, private veterinarians have made a significant contribution in identifying the index case and reporting cases of suspected disease, as well as undertaking on-farm testing and supporting their clients affected by the eradication programme. 

If it had been left unchecked, M bovis could have cost the industry $1.2 billion over the first 10 years, with ongoing productivity losses across the farming sector and animal welfare concerns. As we near the halfway mark of our estimated 10-year eradication programme, we are aiming to move from controlling the last known pockets of the disease, to provisional absence. We are on track to become the first country to eradicate M bovis.

An important part of my role at the Ministry for Primary Industries is to identify ways to build relationships that bind our animal health community together to enable successful biosecurity partnerships. MPI is NZ’s largest employer of veterinarians, with 300 working in five of the nine business units, across all regions, including overseas postings.  . . 

Ploughwoman qualifies for national champs – Shawn McAvinue:

Southland ploughwoman Tryphena Carter is going to the National Ploughing Championships next year.

The Waimea Ploughing Club member qualified for the nationals on the first day of the Middlemarch, Taieri and Tokomairiro ploughing matches in Strath Taieri.

“That’s really exciting,” Carter said.

She got podium finishes in the conventional class on all three days — the Tokomairiro match in Sutton on August 26 and the Taieri and Middlemarch matches in Middlemarch on August 27 and 28 respectively. . . 


Rural round-up

07/06/2022

Why this is not the time for government to be heaping regulatory costs on farmers and requiring a culling of the dairy herd – Point of Order:

On-farm inflation is at its highest level in almost 40 years, according to Beef + Lamb NZ’s Economic Service, and costs are expected to increase.  Meanwhile Federated  Farmers  says farmers’ satisfaction with their banks is relatively stable but more are feeling under pressure and the costs of finance are rising.

“Inflation is putting many New Zealanders and businesses under pressure, and our food producers are no different,” Feds President and economic spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

While Consumer Price Index (CPI) data has the annual inflation rate at 6.9%, the latest on-farm inflation rate has hit 10.2%  – the highest it’s been since 1985-86 (13.2%).

B+LNZ is concerned increasing regulatory requirements from the Government, such as freshwater and biodiversity rules, will stretch farmers even further. . . 

Another solid season looms – Rural News:

 Given what’s happening around the world, New Zealand dairy farmers are on to a pretty good thing with its internationally envied farming system.

A record milk price this season and another solid opening forecast for the new season bodes well for farmers’ income.

Dairy demand is still quite strong and supply remains constrained globally, especially in the US and Europe.

However, there are some short-term challenges: Covid, China’s most recent lockdowns and the unrest in Sri Lanka – a key market for Fonterra milk powder. . .

Tough conditions produce good stock – Shawn McAvinue:

Extreme weather conditions on a high-country station in the Maniototo allow for the best breeding of Charolais cattle in the country, Glen Ayr Station manager Drew Dundass says.

“The cream rises to the top.”

More than 80 people attended the 28th annual Taiaroa & Cotswold Charolais Bull Sale on Glen Ayr Station in Paerau Valley last week.

Of the 28 bulls on offer, 26 sold for an average of $6392, and the top price was $11,500. . . 

Queen’s Birthday honours unofficial mayor of Tarata gets official – Ilona Hanne:

He’s the unofficial mayor of Tarata, and now Bryan Hocken is officially a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM).

Bryan was made an MNZM in the Queen’s Birthday and Platinum Jubilee Honours List 2022, for services to agriculture and the rural community.

Announced on Monday, June 6, it’s an honour he describes as having left him “blown away”.

“I wasn’t expecting it. When I saw the email telling me, I just couldn’t believe it.” . . 

Tea Estate back on the boil – Sudesh Kissun:

New Zealand’s only tea farm is back on the boil.

The 48ha Zealong Tea Estate, near Hamilton, is preparing to welcome back local and international visitors after a two-year hiatus.

Home to 1.2 million tea plants, Zealong is the world’s largest internationally certified organic tea estate. It has a philosophy of enhancing the soil quality using carefully managed organic farm practices.

General manager Sen Kong says the company is excited to start welcoming visitors back after a challenging two years. . . 

RSPCA state New Zealand is judged to have higher welfare than UK – John Sleigh:

Flying largely in the face of what is perceived in the UK, New Zealand is the one country globally that can be judged to have better farm animal welfare standards than the UK – that’s according to animal protection body, the RSCPA.

Animal welfare has been put in the spotlight as the UK and New Zealand thrash out a potential Free Trade Agreement, where it is proposed traded food products must be produced to similar standards. UK opponents have been using the welfare issue as a potential block, citing better standards in the UK.

However, when giving evidence to Westminster’s International Agreements Committee, the RSCPA stated: “New Zealand is the only country with whom the UK is negotiating a Free Trade Agreement where there is broad equivalence on animal welfare standards. In some areas, New Zealand’s farm standards are above the UK’s.”

The RSPCA lists non-stun slaughter, increased lameness in sheep, legal live exports and poorer access to the outdoors for dairy cattle as areas where the UK lags behind on welfare. Whilst in other areas, the charity stated that the UK was ahead of New Zealand with our ban on sow stalls, more free range hens and henhouse cleanliness rules. . . 

 


Rural round-up

17/05/2022

Farmers overwhelmed by new regs – Peter Burke:

Farmers are getting overwhelmed by all the new regulations and compliance requirements they are facing now and in the future.

Leading farm consultant Phil Journeaux, of AgFirst, told Rural News that farming is a complicated enough business as it is. But he says the compliance cost on farm – in terms of time and paperwork – is growing rapidly and with the advent of all the water, animal welfare and labour regulations, the pressure is on farmers.

“I have been doing a lot of work in the last few years around greenhouse gas emissions, which is very complicated and this has yet to really hit farmers,” Journeaux explains.

“I don’t think they (farmers) understand how much paperwork and compliance they will be required to do. This whole compliance thing is becoming a really big component of farming and that’s why a lot of farmers are reaching for advisors to help them work it through.” . . 

New regulations compel consents for 2023 crops – Richard Rennie:

As many farmers grapple with a looming feed crisis this winter, planning for next winter may also demand attention sooner rather than later with changes in the winter grazing regulations effective from November 1.

The revised intensive winter grazing (IWG) regulations finalised last month may require some farmers to apply for resource consent to winter graze crops on their farm and timelines are getting tight to ensure consent is granted before crops are sown.

AgFirst director of farm consulting James Allen says time can run surprisingly short for a feed supply that is not needed for another 12 months, once resource consent application processes are factored in.

“Basically, a resource consent is required if you are looking at a new wintering programme, there are a series of conditions you have to meet and it’s likely it will take time to ensure you meet them.” . . 

‘Red wave’ sweeps national dairy awards – Sudesh Kissun:

A red wave swept through the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards last night.

And the 2022 Share Farmer of the Year Will Green rightly pointed out in his acceptance speech that red wave wasn’t about the Labour Party but Canterbury. For the first time in the Awards 33-year history Canterbury/North Otago has achieved a clean sweep of all three major categories and the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award, with national finalists from that region taking home the silverware.

Joining Green on the podium last night, Jaspal Singh, the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Peter O’Connor, also from Canterbury/North Otago, was announced the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year.

They shared prizes from a pool worth over $200,000. . . 

All hands to the vine for harvest – Ashley Smyth :

A warm, dry autumn has been the saving grace for winegrowers in the Waitaki this season.

Harvest was in full swing in the Waitaki Valley this week, and it had been an ‘‘atypical’’ season for the region, new Waitaki Valley Winegrowers Association chairman Dave Sutton said.

‘‘It’s been more of a La Nina rain pattern this year, which has meant a lot of easterly rainfall, so a lot of the winegrowing regions on the East Coast — for example Marlborough, Hawkes Bay, Waiheke Island — they’ve seen a lot more rainfall.

‘‘Things were looking a little bit grim, but we’ve had a beautiful ripening period, late, and it’s actually saved the vintage, I think. . . 

Calmer farming through pressure and change :

A new online programme – Know your Mindset. Do what Matters – is boosting the ability of rural communities to handle pressure and change. Dairy farmer Matt Goodwin discusses how it’s helped him.

Matt Goodwin has plenty on his plate. 

He oversees not just one farm, but two – the family’s South Canterbury dairy operation comprises a 600-cow farm and a 300-cow farm. 

It’s a big job, but Matt loves dairying.  . . 

Glass ceiling obliterated by Taupō dairy farm managers – Rachel Canning:

Three Taupō women are proving their doubters wrong as they prepare for their first season as managers of dairy farms.

The trio will each manage Pāmu Farms dairy farms located just out of Taupō.

When they started out, two had never set foot on a dairy farm and one grew up on a sheep and beef farm. One had family members who doubted she would cope with the mud, the stink, and hours outside in the cold.

Resolution Dairy Unit manager Mona Cable, Quarry Dairy Unit manager Liza Arnold and Burgess Dairy Unit manager Carol Cuttance have worked their way up from the bottom, spent time “riding the train” while their children were young, taken up study opportunities to learn about milking and effluent management systems, and all three say they still experience moments of self-doubt. . . 

 


Rural round-up

12/05/2022

Rural health refused priority – Peter Burke:

“Completely and utterly outrageous.”

That’s how NZ Rural General Practice Network chair Dr Fiona Bolden describes the Government’s outright rejection of calls to make ‘rural’ a priority in the new Pae Ora Health Futures (POHF) Bill now before Parliament.

The bill is the first major reform of the health service in more than 20 years and paves the way for a completely new structure that is supposed to deliver better health outcomes for NZ. But according to Bolden, who works as a rural GP, it won’t do this for the nearly 750,000 people who live in rural NZ.

The genesis of the changes come from a review of the health service by Heather Simpson. In her review, according to Bolden, rural was seen as a priority and was mentioned some 80 times in Simpson’s report. . . 

Is it time to reconsider the rules on GMOs? – Emile Donovan:

The Productivity Commission says New Zealand needs to take another look at its regulations on genetically modified organisms – or we could risk missing out on important innovations that improve our lives and the environment

Is it time for New Zealand to reconsider its strict regulations on genetically modified organisms (GMOs)? 

In a report released in April, the Productivity Commission called for a renewed conversation, saying technology has outpaced the regulatory environment. 

While many still hold serious reservations about genetic modification, the ability to ‘gene edit – altering the genes of an organism which has been sequenced, rather than introducing foreign genes into it – has led to remarkable developments around the world.  . . 

Still some sticking points with new winter grazing rules – Sudesh Kissun:

Farmers still have some concerns around the revised grazing regulations released last month.

Restrictions on planting winter forage crops on slopes over 10 degrees and regulation wordings around ‘critical source areas’ exempted from cultivating or grazing cows are being contested by farmers.

Federated Farmers Southland vice president Bernadette Hunt says farmers welcome some parts of the revised regulations – like the removal of specific requirements around pugging depths.

Another amendment requiring grazed annual forage crop paddocks to be re-sown as soon as conditions allow, instead of by a set date, has also been accepted. . . 

Lamb exports outpace averages – Annette Scott:

Despite supply chain challenges and processing delays lamb export prices have soared to an unseasonal all-time high.

Continuing the run of record high monthly lamb average export values (AEV) since August last year, AEV reached $13.49 a kilogram for March. 

This is the highest ever recorded.

Both chilled and frozen AEV reached NZ$20.67/kg and $12.52/ kg, respectively.  . . 

Seven-fold increase in DOC land destroyed by fires concerning :

The area of Department of Conservation (DOC) land burned in unwanted fires is rising rapidly yet the agency is doing just the bare minimum to protect land and has taken no accountability, National’s Fire and Emergency Spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“Fire and Emergency New Zealand has responded to at least 109 fires on DOC land since the 2019/20 fire season destroying more than 13,600 hectares of Public Conservation lands over the past three years. To-date, that’s a seven-fold increase on the 2,003 hectares destroyed by wildfires for three years period before 2019/20.

“Cracks in the management of unwanted fires on DOC land started to show when regulatory control over Public Conservation Lands was transferred from DOC to FENZ in 2017.

“Since then DOC has essentially taken a hands-off approach to fire management on its land. DOC has reduced its funding from a ten-year average annual spend of $10.4 million before 2017/18 to a current annual average of $3.6 million for the past three years. . . 

Potential closure to sporting dynasty little golf club’s remarkable plight – Logan Savory:

Six years ago the 100-year-old Nightcaps Golf Club was facing the likely prospect of closure. Fast-forward to 2022 and the club is now home to one of Southland’s more remarkable sporting dynasties. Logan Savory reports.

In early 2016 the few remaining members at the Nightcaps Golf Club found themselves pondering the future.

The club had just seven playing members and discussions had started around leasing the golf course land out for farming use.

The likely closure of the Nightcaps Golf Club, established in 1922, fast become a reality six years ago. . . 

 


Rural round-up

28/02/2022

Push continues for land use ‘fair and even playing field’ :

Federated Farmers believes new requirements announced today for overseas investors buying New Zealand farmland for forestry are encouraging but are only step one of a suite of changes required.

“For years Feds and other organisations have been calling for a reversal of rules that exempt overseas buyers intending to convert our farmland into forestry from the ‘proof of benefit to New Zealand’ requirements that apply when buyers intend continuing farm production land use,” Federated Farmers Meat & Wool Chairperson William Beetham says.

“That chorus has grown ever louder as tens of thousands of hectares of productive farmland are blanketed in pine trees, in large part because of the chase for carbon credit revenue.

“We’re glad the government is listening and taking action. But more must be done,” William says. . .

Fonterra lifts milk payout forecast to record level – but farmers will be soured if govt demands their herds be culled – Point of Order:

Dairy  giant Fonterra has lifted its 2021/22 forecast farmgate milk price range to $9.30 – $9.90kg/MS, up from its previous forecast of $8.90 – $9.50.

This increases the midpoint of the range, at which farmers are paid, by 40c to $9.60 – easily the highest on record.

At that level, Fonterra estimates that the milk price  payout will contribute $14bn this season to the NZ economy.

Truly  exciting times for the dairy industry and  rural regions.  They  have  become  even more  important, as a  key prop to the economy  through the Covid pandemic, because of the  loss of  earnings from the international tourism  and  hospitality industries. . . 

Free trade area could help post Covid recovery – Sudesh Kissun:

Moves to bring all free trade deals in Asia Pacific into one ‘free trade area’ could help countries like New Zealand bounce back from Covid, according to trade expert Stephen Jacobi.

He says, if achieved, it would mean trade rules around the region would be harmonised.

“NZ’s agriculture and horticulture exporters would face fewer barriers and be able to do business more easily and cheaply,” he told Rural News. “It would be just the thing to help us bounce back from Covid.”

The Free Trade Area of Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) was discussed at the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) meeting in Singapore two weeks ago. . . .

Women landing rural laboring jobs and loving it – Karen Coltman:

Campaigns to attract female butchers, fruit harvesters, farm machine operators, shearers and dairy farmers are in full swing across the country as employers face a labour shortage.

DairyNZ has launched a recruitment campaign fronted by Eastern Bay of Plenty dairy farmer Shannon Munro.

Munro says that as a young, Māori woman, she was proud to be presenting a different face to dairy farming and to be associated with the campaign.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle ​says the sector is between 4000 to 6000 workers short for the coming dairy season. . .

Halter plans to start selling its high-tech cow collars to Canterbury farmers after raising $32 Million – Bonnie Flaws:

Farming technology company Halter, which sells high-tech collars to manage and monitor dairy herds remotely, is using a $32 million of new investment funding to expand into Canterbury.

Halter is a solar-powered GPS enabled smart collar, which guides cows around a farm using sound and vibrations, allowing farmers to automate herd movements and create virtual fences. The technology can also tell a farmer when a cow is hurt or on heat.

The compamy has has been operating commercially in Waikato since early last year, working with farmers to make improvements to its halters, and since raising new capital in April has been working towards its Canterbury launch.

Chief executive Craig Piggott said word of mouth had driven significant demand in the region ahead of the November launch. . . .

 

Thumbs up from Feds on rural broadband upgrade :

The announcement of a big push to upgrade capacity on congested rural broadband networks gets a big thumbs up from Federated Farmers.

“Every year Feds surveys members on broadband and cellphone coverage in rural areas, to gather data on the worst blackspots and inform our advocacy to government,” Federated Farmers NZ President and telecommunications spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

“The frustration of farming families whose businesses, distance education and everyday activities are hampered by poor or sometimes non-existent services comes through loud and clear.

“So news that upgrades to existing cell towers and construction of new towers should see 47,000 rural households and businesses experience faster internet speeds and better reception by the end of 2024 will come as a relief.” . .

NZ 2021 Young Horticulturist announced:

For the third consecutive time, a viticulturist has won the Young Horticulturist ((Kaiahuone rangatahi o te tau) competition.

Blenheim’s Rhys Hall,28, who works in Waihopai Valley as assistant vineyard manager for Indevin, took out the top title after intense competition that ended on Wednesday. Rhys has worked at this company – a leading producer of high-quality NZ wine – for five years, starting as a vineyard worker, then viticulture technician before promoting to his current job two years’ ago. He has a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in plant science from Massey University.

In winning the grand award, Rhys follows in the footsteps of Simon Gourley, and before that, Annabel Bulk. Both those viticulturists were based in Central Otago when announced as competition winners. . . 


Rural round-up

14/01/2022

Incentives working but more people needed for Otago summerfruit harvest :

Summerfruit growers in Otago are experiencing severe staff shortages, due to the ongoing impact of border closures and low unemployment in New Zealand.

‘We know it is tough for growers at the moment. Last season, they had the weather. This season, it is the severe labour shortage,’ says Summerfruit New Zealand Chief Executive, Kate Hellstrom.

‘Summerfruit New Zealand is working with other horticulture product groups and government departments to attract and retain as many seasonal workers as possible. However, due to Covid and its impact on New Zealand’s borders, it’s tough.

‘We ask that where possible, growers club together to make best use of available labour. But in saying that, we know that fruit will go to waste, which will affect profitability and morale, as some growers only have about half the staff they’ve had in previous seasons.’ . . 

More dairy industry workers needed ‘for farmers’ mental health’ – Gerhard Uys:

The dairy industry is calling for another 1500 international dairy workers to be let into New Zealand for the 2022 dairy season, with concerns that staff shortages are affecting farmer well-being.

Dairy NZ said recent labour surveys indicated that the dairy sector was short of 2000 to 4000 workers, the statement said.

New Zealand has its lowest unemployment rate since 2007, at 3.4 per cent. A low unemployment rate and closed borders meant massive labour shortage on farms, DairyNZ strategy and investment leader for farm performance Nick Robinson said.

Matt Zanderop, a dairy farmer in Waikato, said he had recently advertised for a local part-time position on his farm but that no one applied because there were no locals workers available to fill such posts. . . 

Environmental compliance still high in Southland – Sudesh Kissun:

Southland farmers are being praised for maintaining high environmental compliance during the 2020-21 monitoring year.

The 2020-21 compliance monitoring report, presented this month to Environment Southland summarised compliance monitoring, enforcement and technical teams’ activities.

Environment Southland general manager integrated catchment management Paul Hulse said that once again Covid restrictions led to significant disruption of the inspection programme, and therefore, inspection numbers.

“It has been another challenging year, however, the compliance team has managed the programme extremely well.” . .

Just how viable is the Tarras airport plan? – Jill Herron:

Jill Herron looks at the road ahead for the mysterious and seemingly unwanted airport in Tarras

Lifestyle blocks are continuing to sell around the site of a proposed international airport at Tarras, with newcomers arriving into a community impatient for clarity on the project.

Construction of this considerable chunk of infrastructure could begin in six years’ time, according to its proposers, Christchurch International Airport Ltd.

A three-year consenting process is due to start in 2024 for the jet-capable facility with a 2.2km runway, coinciding with sustainability and community consultation policies tightening across all levels of government. . . 

Landing at Minaret Station Alpine Lodge – Sue Wallace,:

You can escape the real world at Minaret Station, writes Sue Wallace

It’s simply breathtaking skimming over snow-dusted mountains, emerald green valleys and spotting tumbling waterfalls and meandering streams on the way to the South Island’s luxury Minaret Station Alpine Lodge.

The lodge fits snugly on the western side of Lake Wānaka between Minaret Burn in the south and the Albert Burn in the north.

Head swivelling is in full force on the 30-minute helicopter hop from Queenstown Airport to the remote highland retreat among some of the world’s best scenery. You just don’t want to miss anything. . . 

Propaganda films disguised as documentaries continue to take aim at agriculture – Jonathan Lawler:

At every turn, there is a new food/farm documentary coming out with sensationalist titles like GMO OMG and Cowspiracy. Thanks to the popularity of streaming sites like Netflix and the deep pockets of some interest groups, it has become easier than ever to get such a movie made. And that would be fine if there was any value and truth to what they show. These “documentaries” are too often light on substance and tap into very little — if any — reality about modern agriculture. And, as a farmer who is doing my best to build a sustainable and thriving operation, it’s crushing to see these kinds of depictions get so much buzz in popular culture.

Not long ago, I spoke to a teacher who had recently shown Food, Inc. to her class, and she asked me my opinion of Cowspiracy. I told her it was equivalent to what I shovel out of the cattle pens. I reminded her the purpose of a documentary is to document real-world experience, and even though most will be somewhat biased through the eyes of the filmmaker, these food and ag docs are most often marketed as the definitive answer on a particular subject matter (such as biotech, nutrition, or soil).

Consider a National Geographic documentary on crocodiles, for example. You don’t walk away saying, “Those crocodiles are evil and greedy; why do they kill so many buffalo and why do they trick them by pretending to be logs?” Of course you don’t, because the documentary director is just … well … documenting. . . .

 


Rural round-up

18/12/2021

 Government ‘tone deaf’ to meat industry’s needs – Sally Rae:

The Meat Industry Association has lambasted what is understood to be the approval of 15 long-term critical worker visas for halal butchers – when 45 are “desperately” needed – saying it shows the Government is “tone deaf to the needs of business”.

Muslim markets and many customers demanded meat be processed in the halal way; 49 out of 55 processing plants in New Zealand operated halal systems and relied on 250 halal butchers.

In a statement yesterday, MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said the “miserly” approval knee-capped the ability of the second-largest goods export sector to fully contribute to New Zealand’s economy and capture higher value from its exports.

Halal certified products contributed about $3.7 billion of annual export earnings. The sector could typically recruit only 100 halal butchers domestically due to New Zealand’s small Muslim population and the nature of the job. . . 

Farmers will want to milk it – Sudesh Kissun:

Dairy farmers will be milking cows for as long as they can to capitalise on a record milk price this season.

Soaring farm input costs may erode profit margins, but a milk price near $9/kgMS provides farmers the chance to boost income and reduce debt.

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell says farmers around the globe are facing inflationary pressures and NZ is no exception.

“But I don’t think there will be any adverse reaction to milk production,” says Hurrell. . .

T&G Global to invest millions in automated packhouse, orchard redevelopment

Produce company T&G Global has announced it will pour in millions of dollars to expand its apples business to meet growing consumer demand. 

The company will invest $100 million into a new automated packhouse and has committed millions more to orchard redevelopment across Hawke’s Bay and Nelson.

The announcement comes after T&G downgraded its full-year profit expectations in October, due to persistent labour shortages and rising shipping costs.

T&G, which is one of New Zealand’s largest apple growers and marketers, said its premium Envy apple was on track to be a billion-dollar brand. . . 

Funding of hemp fibre innovation set to propel New Zealand on to world stage :

New Government funding will help a New Zealand hemp fibre company explore untapped opportunities – from soft flooring to food packaging that’s more environmentally sustainable.

The Government is contributing $1.34 million through MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures) to New Zealand Natural Fibres’ (NZNF) five-year research and development programme project. NZNF is the only hemp fibre company in New Zealand that controls its own supply chain end-to-end. The company is contributing a further $2 million in cash and in kind to the project.

“We plan to use the SFF Futures funding to develop our hemp growing, processing and marketing capability to ‘go further, faster’ towards taking a global leadership position in the development of industrial and consumer products made from hemp fibre,” says NZNF CEO Colin McKenzie.

“We are very pleased to have received government backing to continue our work with hemp fibre, which has huge potential to be part of the solution to some of the most crucial environmental challenges facing our planet today. . . 

Gearing up for harvest:

The export cherry season is now underway and in New Zealand, summerfruit has started appearing in the supermarkets.  In other words, the new season’s fruit harvest is gathering pace, as Christmas fast approaches and the great kiwi summer getaway also gets underway. 

Tomorrow, the Auckland borders will finally be open. Unfortunately across some areas of the country, there is apprehension and reservations about this change.  But let’s not pre-empt any negative thoughts.  Our Auckland comrades have done it very hard for a long period.  To help growers and packhouse operators prepare for in the event of a positive Covid test, we have worked with the Ministry of Primary Industries to pull together advice on what to do.  Click here to access that advice. 

The most important things to do are to isolate the worker and their bubble, alert your local District Health Board and follow their instructions regarding the public health implications, and contact your product group for further advice.  In terms of any media interest, it is recommended to direct any journalist to your product group or HortNZ for any comment as you will be busy managing the response and we are all here to help you.  . . 

Once perceived as a problem, conservation grazing by cattle a boon to vernal pools :

Giving 1,200-pound cows access to one of California’s most fragile and biologically rich ecosystems seems a strange way to protect its threatened and endangered species.

But a recently published study suggests that reintroducing low to moderate levels of cattle grazing around vernal pools – under certain conditions – leads to a greater number and greater variety of native plants.

“We found that after 40 years of rest from grazing, reintroducing conservation grazing had – across the board – positive impacts on vernal pool plant diversity,” said Julia Michaels, a visiting professor at Reed College who led a three-year study in a Sacramento-area reserve during her time as a UC Davis Ph.D. student.

Ecologists consider vernal pools – ephemeral ponds that form seasonally – “islands of native habitat” amid California’s grasslands that are dominated by exotic grasses. These biodiversity hotspots harbor about 200 native species of animals and plants, such as the coyote thistle, which germinates under water and forms a snorkel-like straw to deliver oxygen to its roots – and then “fills in” its stem as the pool dries. . . 


Rural round-up

16/12/2021

Record milk price is holding – Sudesh Kissun:

Last week’s rise in global dairy prices has further boosted the chance of a record-breaking $9 milk price for the season.

Whole milk powder prices – the benchmark for Fonterra’s milk price – to its farmer suppliers – broke the US$4,000/metric tonne barrier for the first time in six months.

Westpac has lifted its 2021-22 farmgate milk price by 10c to $9/kgMS, at the top of Fonterra’s updated forecast range of $8.40 to $9.00/kgMS.

Senior agri economist Nathan Penny believes the lower NZ dollar is likely to prove a windfall gain for farmers. . .

Fert prices hurt – Sudesh Kissun:

Federated Farmers vice president Chris Lewis claims farmers won’t be making much money this year, despite a record forecast milk price.

He says fertiliser prices have jumped 100%, wage bills are up 20% and hiring tradesmen has become more expensive.

Lewis says “market forces” mean farmers must pay more to retain staff in a labour-squeezed market.

While the record forecast payout must be celebrated and provides a buffer against rising costs, he doesn’t expect too many farmers to end up with a large surplus this season. . .

SNAs are great if you have the space – Lois Williams:

Telling farmers to protect what they’ve been protecting for a hundred years was never going to go down well on the West Coast.

But having a Significant Natural Area (SNA) or even several on your land need not be an outrageous imposition – if you have scale.

That’s been the experience of one of the region’s biggest landholders, Ken Ferguson, of Waipuna Station.

The Grey Valley spread he farms with his brother Mark has been in the care of Ken’s family since the 1860s and has 60 hectares set aside in significant natural areas. . .

Croptide raises $1m to help fruit growers battle water scarcity :

 Agritech startup Croptide, which transmits plant water health to a farmer’s phone within seconds, has raised $1 million in a pre-seed funding round led by Icehouse Ventures with support from Sir Stephen Tindall’s K1W1 and Masfen Group.

Croptide uses internet-enabled sensors to provide accurate and timely water measurement data to fruit and wine growers battling the impacts of water scarcity brought about by climate change. The sensors are clipped to the plant, sourcing accurate water and nutrient readings directly from its stem tissue, a new, more precise approach to measuring plant health.

The company aims to improve water use efficiency for fruit and wine growers by 30-50%.

Four global businesses are among the first to trial Croptide’s technology, with T&G Global, Pernod Ricard Winemakers, Cloudy Bay New Zealand, and Indevin have signed up for the summer pilots; along with large kiwifruit grower, the Ngai Tukairangi Trust. . .

MPI funding for transition to future orchard planting systems:

A project to increase the successful adoption of a new growing system with the potential to double orchard productivity, improve environmental outcomes, and boost labour efficiency has received $1.65 million of Government funding.

Future Orchard Planting Systems (FOPS) is a scientifically proven fruit tree growing system. It has the potential to double yields and improve fruit quality by bringing orchard rows closer together and growing trees in a planar (two-dimensional) structure. This maximises the trees’ use of available light.

The Government support, which comes from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures), sits alongside the $1.1 million committed to the project by Plant & Food Research, and industry partners New Zealand Apples and Pears, Rockit Global, and Summerfruit New Zealand.

The five-year project, led by Dr Ben van Hooijdonk and Dr Jill Stanley from Plant & Food Research, is being delivered with AgFirst Consultants NZ and industry representatives. The project aims to investigate barriers in adopting new growing systems, validate and refine FOPS performance, and support uptake of emerging technologies. . . 

MPI assessment of the potential for a new primary industry based on industrial hemp :

The NZHIA congratulate MPI on the release of their 60 page “Facilitating growth in the New Zealand Hemp Industry” report.

The report was independently prepared by Sapere and recognises the industrial hemp industry is “rapidly developing internationally, driven by recent deregulation and increasing interest in and demand for its use in a range of products”.

The report identified a number of comparative advantages for hemp production in Aotearoa New Zealand. Based on our strong track record in plant and food science and innovation, strong agronomic fundamentals, our “clean and green” image and availability of water in potential growing regions.

“These advantages can be leveraged to create a new primary food and fibre industry in regional Aotearoa New Zealand,” says Richard Barge, Chair – NZ Hemp Industries Association Inc. . . 


Rural round-up

11/12/2021

Tim Ritchie – iconic meat industry leader dies – Peter Burke:

A man who dedicated his whole working life to the meat industry died suddenly on December 5.

Tim Ritchie, 71, made an outstanding contribution in his many roles in the industry over more than 40 years working for Government, the private sector and the Meat Industry Association and its predecessor, the Freezing Companies Association.

After completing a Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree in marketing and economics at Lincoln University, Ritchie embarked on a wide ranging international career in the red meat sector. He started off at Treasury but then moved to Towers International and then to Waitaki International, both in NZ and overseas. Ritchie told Rural News just after his retirement last year that working for Waitaki in London was the highlight of his career

“There as a 30 something year-old my job was to manage the Waitaki operation in the UK and Europe,” he said. . .

It’s time to imagine New Zealand without production animals – Jacqueline Rowarth:

It’s time to imagine New Zealand without production animals. Anti-farming lobbyistsprobably don’t mean this to be the outcome of their activities, but outcomes are difficult to predict, even when the predictor is an expert in the appropriate discipline.

Lobbyists are experts at getting noticed in the media. The negative coverage of agriculture this month has been extraordinary. Anybody who has read the press, listened to the radio, watched the television or gone to a cinema would be forgiven for thinking that New Zealand is an environmental cot case.

The reality is that pre-Covid, tourists rated the environment at the top of New Zealand’s attractions. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has the data. The reality is also that without dairy, beef and sheep, New Zealanders would not have a first-world and flourishing economy. . . 

Fonterra are farmers under ‘enormous pressure’ – Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra chairman Peter McBride has acknowledged that despite the co-op’s improved performance, many shareholders feel under enormous pressure.

He says the rate of change on-farm, Covid, labour shortages and environmental reforms have pushed many farmers into protest, and others out of the industry.

He told Fonterra’s annual general meeting in Invercargill today that some of that change is being driven by regulation.

“More so, it is being driven by consumer, customer and community expectations,” he says. . .

Another day at the office for Pip – Simon Edwards:

Is this one of the best rural photos of the year (even decade)?

It was snapped earlier this week by Pahiatua farmer and Federated Farmers member Nick Perry and has already been seized on by media as a compelling shot.

This is how Nick described what happend:

While crossing a culvert on farm I heard a bleat from beneath me and thought ‘bother there’s a lamb in there’. Knowing full well extracting the lamb might involve getting wet I put off the decision until later in the day. But the bleat was still emanating from the culvert that evening so I selected my two most experienced working dogs, a huntaway and a heading dog, and explained the situation to them. . .

Family living the dream on beef farm – Shawn McAvinue:

An East Otago egg farming family is giving cropping and cattle finishing a crack in the Maniototo.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand ran a field day at Rotherwood, a 737ha beef and cropping farm near Ranfurly, last week.

The farm is owned by the Winmill family — Jeff and Aileen and their children Nina and Ben.

Jeff Winmill, standing on the steps of the homestead, told more than 80 people at the event, about the purchase and transformation of the farm. . . 

Ag records to tumble for Aussie farmers – Liv Casben:

It’s set to be a record breaking year for Australian farmers thanks to strong growing conditions and high global prices according to a report from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

If forecasts are realised, Australia’s agricultural production will reach a record $78 billion in 2021/22, with the most valuable winter crop ever expected worth $22.3 billion.

Meanwhile agricultural exports are also likely to hit a record $61 billion.

ABARES executive director Jared Greenville said the good results are expected to be enjoyed across livestock and cropping, with 30-year price highs being experienced. . . 


Rural round-up

17/11/2021

Uncertain times ahead – Peter Burke:

NZ sheep and beef farmers will likely face different risks to their businesses in the coming years due to the Covid pandemic.

Beef+Lamb NZ’s chief economist Andrew Burt says there may be more volatility and risks that farmers will have to manage. He says these will be ones that they haven’t had to think about before or haven’t surfaced for over 20 years.

“It may be the case of unravelling the past and creating a new order.”

Burt confirms that while prices for meat are high at present, this is somewhat shielding significant rises in on-farm costs. He also warns that inflation could have a negative effect on farm profits. . . 

MIQ spots ‘bloody hard’ – Sudesh Kissun:

A lack of spots in MIQ have become a barrier for getting international dairy workers into New Zealand. A lack of spots in MIQ have become a barrier for getting international dairy workers into New Zealand. Securing MIQ spots remain the biggest hurdle to getting overseas workers for the dairy sector.

Five months after the Government granted border exceptions for 200 dairy farm workers and their families, just a handful of workers have arrived in the country.

Now in the dairy sector is pleading for 1500 overseas workers to be allowed into the country and self-quarantine on farms before the start of 2022 season to ease a severe staff shortage.

Federated Farmers dairy chair Chris Lewis says a lot of behind-the-scenes work is going with the Government. . . 

How Tomato Pete got lost and found again – Rachel Stewart:

This a story about Tomato Pete – a name given to him by a farmer amused by his vegetarianism.

Tomato Pete is the son of a friend I’ve known since primary school. She had two children to one man, who soon became largely absent from their lives. As a solo mother she worked hard to raise the kids on her own and, as is often the way, it wasn’t all beer and skittles. But it was okay.

I would show up in my truck every now and then, always with one canine or another in tow. Tomato Pete, a quiet town kid, was about seven when I noticed that he really came alive when he was around dogs.

At 13 he got his first puppy. Pip, a gentle-natured black mongrel, became his constant companion. (He’s still alive today, and enjoying his well-earned dotage). . . 

NZ wins big at World Steak Challenge :

Three New Zealand red meat producers won big at the World Steak Challenge in Dublin.

Anzco and First Light Foods won a gold medal each in the ribeye section, while Alliance Group’s Pure South Handpicked 55-Day Aged Beef won three gold medals.

Hundreds of beef suppliers from around the world had their finest products judged by an independent panel of chefs and experts at the prestigious event.

Alliance general manager of sales Shane Kingston says the win reaffirmed the status of Handpicked 55-Day Aged Beef as among the world’s best. . .

Gen Z it’s time to make your mark on New Zealand’s food and fibre sector :

Food and fibre sector leaders are counting on Generation Z (loosely defined as those born between 1995 and 2010) to take on the future of New Zealand’s food and fibre sector and meet the challenges it faces.

The key to attracting Generation Z (Gen Z) to the sector will be making them aware of the scope of opportunities across the sector, says Madison Pannett, the Kellogg Rural Leadership scholar behind the report, Generation Z and the environment – how can we use their passion to attract them into food and fibre sector careers?

“I have found my journey into the sector so personally rewarding, so I was keen to explore how to inspire young people to join,” says Madison, who now works for the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) as a Senior Adviser in the Animal Welfare Liaison team.

“From my research, I found that Gen Z mainly associates food and fibre sector careers with roles on-farm and not with the wider opportunities that are available,” Madison notes. She says that sector leaders need to tell the story of the scope of rewarding and diverse roles available for Gen Z to contribute and work in line with their values. . .

Western Station buy-up goes way beyond government promises

The acquisition of five western stations by NSW National Parks now totals almost 400,000 hectares in the last year. If you add on travelling stock routes, a large land ‘grab’ would appear to be underway.

Graziers and the community that need them for their economies in the western division are rightly asking questions.

Although some of the purchases were flagged by the government, they are wondering what now is the wash-out from these buy-outs, given the original buy-up was estimated at 200,000 hectares.

It’s estimated that each station in private hands, adds about $500,000 a year into local economies. It’s certain that the national park version will do nothing like that. . .


Rural round-up

01/11/2021

Feds remain opposed to ‘Three waters’ reform – Sudesh Kissun:

The Government’s decision to push through its ‘Three Waters’ reforms despite widespread opposition is being slammed by farmers and politicians.

Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says the government’s announcement that Three Waters will be mandatory is a huge call.

“Federated Farmers, a majority of local authorities and many New Zealanders have voiced serious misgivings over the government’s plans for council three waters assets to be transferred to four new mega entities,” says Hoggard. 

“We remain opposed to this plan.” . . .

Blue River Dairy ranked number one in business growth :

Southland-based nutritional products manufacturer Blue River Dairy has taken out the top spot on Deloitte’s 2021 Master of Growth Index.

The rankings for the Deloitte Fast 50 and Master of Growth Index were released on October 28. The accolades recognise businesses that have shown significant growth over the past either three (Fast 50) or five years (Master of Growth). The Master of Growth Index, made up of the 20 fastest growing established businesses, is determined by revenue growth percentage.

Blue River Dairy has reached a staggering 1502% growth since 2017 – the highest percentage in the Index’s history and more than twice the growth of previous winners.

Blue River Dairy developed the world’s first sheep milk nutrition products using exclusively sheep milk protein and today manufactures nutritional products using milks from three different species—sheep, goat and cow. . .

Entrepreneurial farmers use own wool to make blankets, yarn – Country Life:

Angus cattle and merino sheep graze happily at The Grampians, a scenic 3100 hectare station near Culverden that goes from 300 to 1500 metres above sea level.

Third generation farmer Jono Reed has always had a fascination with bulls and cattle. He was only 14 when he started an Angus stud on the property.

“They’re an efficient animal that’s gutsy and can handle the hard times,” he says.

Now known as Grampians Angus, the stud now sells 40 to 50 bulls a year.  In the last on-farm sale the bulls averaged $11,000 each. . . 

Start-stop beginning as contracting season gets under way – Gerald Piddock:

Wet unpredictable weather has meant a sluggish start to the season for the country’s rural contractors.

Spring is one of the busiest times of the year for the industry as they cut pasture for silage and plant summer crops.

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) president Helen Slattery says heavy rain in parts of Northland had delayed work to get maize in the ground.

“They have had very intermittent and small windows where they have been able to do harvesting and planting,” Slattery said.

Northern Waikato had also been wet, while eastern parts of the region were dry and cold, which she says had delayed pasture growth for cutting grass silage. . . 

Pastoral opportunity assured with Lagoon Hill:

Sheep and beef farmers keen to invest in a quality pastoral property without the intense price competition from foresters have that opportunity in the Wairarapa this spring.

Martinborough property Lagoon Hill at Tutirimuri offers the opportunity to enter or expand a holding in a pastoral breeding unit at a realistic price level, thanks to its covenanted title.

Originally part of the much larger Lagoon Hill station that totalled 4,200ha, today’s title represents the portion of the property remaining in pasture after the rest underwent forestry conversion by its new owners in 2019.

The remaining 654ha includes the property’s original and substantial infrastructure assets. Conditions of its subdivision from the original title are that it remain in pasture and livestock farming for 25 years. . . 

Kaipara block offers potential with lifestyle:

A bare block presenting a blank canvas for home building and horticulture while offering a coastal lifestyle near Dargaville is attracting strong interest in a buoyant rural Northland property market.

The 7ha Redhill Road property at Te Kopuru offers purchasers the potential to capitalise on the district’s developing water reservoir scheme for high value horticultural production.

The easy contour property is presently run as a grazing block. But vendor Sam Biddles says the potential for horticultural development has been heightened, thanks to the nearby Kaipara Water Scheme which is part of the larger Te Tai Tokerau reservoir scheme that includes four major dam sites around Northland. . . 


Rural round-up

30/08/2021

Produce having to be thrown away – Molly Houseman:

Rodger Whitson has had to start throwing away perfectly good produce as the reality of being a small business owner during lockdown sinks in.

He owns Janefield Paeonies and Hydroponics, which operates from his 4ha property just outside Mosgiel, growing lettuce and herbs, as well as strawberries and paeonies when they are in season.

Usually, that fresh produce is sold at the Otago Farmers Market and to select restaurants and cafes.

‘‘We only grow half a dozen product lines and good quality. We have got a really good customer base on the farmers market, and the few restaurants and cafes we deal with keep it niche,’’ he said. . .

Covid 19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: Crop fed to cows in Northland as farmers’ markets closed – Peter de Graaf:

Some Northland food producers are being forced to feed valuable crops to cows because Covid restrictions have closed the region’s farmers’ markets.

Several growers spoken to by the Advocate have been lucky with the Delta outbreak coming just as they were between harvests.

Others, however, have been hard hit with no let-up in costs or work, but no income apart from the wage subsidy, which doesn’t fully cover staff costs.

One Northland egg producer is giving everything to a foodbank — a boon for struggling families but a blow to their own incomes — while one spring onion grower has reportedly been forced to plough in an entire crop. . .

No change to level 4 setting – Hort NZ – Sudesh Kissun:

Horticulture New Zealand says it has now been officially advised by the Ministry for Primary Industries that the settings for this Alert Level 4 are the same as those used last year in Level 4.

However, because this strain of Covid is far more virulent, more precautions need to be taken, it says.

There is no requirement to register with MPI as an “essential business or service”.

You will be considered a Alert Level 4 business or service, if you are one of the following: . .

Leader of the pack living best life – Sally Rae:

Surrounded by her much loved team of working dogs — plus pet miniature schnauzer Mickey — casual shepherd Kate Poulsen reckons she is literally living the proverbial dream. She talks to rural editor Sally Rae about the career she has chosen in the rural sector.

Lockdown doesn’t really mean much is different for Kate Poulsen.

The 25-year-old East Otago casual shepherd is doing a lambing beat at Goodwood “tucked away out of it”, which really was not much different from usual.

For her line of work meant that she was often working by herself and, as far as she was concerned, as long as she had her dogs with her then it was “business as usual“. . .

Delay planned fires until after lockdown :

Farmers and lifestyle block owners in the Otago and Southland regions are being asked to avoid lighting fires until lockdown is over, to reduce risk to firefighters.

Southland’s principal rural fire officer Timo Bierlin says even well controlled burns will cause issues at present, because people see the smoke and dial 111 in the belief they are reporting an escaped fire.

Brigades will always turn out to 111 calls and have the protective gear and procedures to do this safely.

“But we would like our firefighters to stay safe in their bubbles and not have to respond to avoidable fires just now,” says Bierlin.

Deaf sheepdog learns sign language to round up sheep – Cortney Moore:

A senior sheepdog has learned sign language for herding.

Nine-year-old Peggy, a border collie from the U.K., lost her hearing and was handed over to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, according to South West News Service.

However, Peggy’s luck took a turn for the better when she crossed paths with Chloe Shorten, the British news agency reports.

Chloe, who is an animal welfare manager at the RSPCA’s Mid Norfolk and North Suffolk Branch in Norwich, England, provided Peggy a place to stay and access to much-needed training. . . 


Rural round-up

22/08/2021

Primary producers charter ships to beat global ports logjam – Jonathan Milne:

A bold proposal for the Government to invest in shipping charters has been put on ice, as ministers watch to see whether exporters can work together to get their produce to international markets.

New Zealand’s biggest fruit, meat and seafood producers are paying up to double the odds to charter ships to the lucrative markets of Asia, Europe and the USA.

It will add to the consumer price of this country’s food in Northern Hemisphere supermarket chillers or cut into export margins – but for some producers, the alternative is dumping their produce.

The international supply chain crisis, getting supplies in and exports out, has become critical. It’s understood the Government was in industry talks to intervene, floating the radical solution of buying or chartering its own ships like the late Prime Minister Norman Kirk’s NZ Shipping Corporation. . .

A delay getting lambs to the meat works could cost farmers if lockdown drags on – Bonnie Flaws:

Farmers should get stock away to the meat works as early as possible because the risk to the supply chain is growing by the day, Silver Fern Farms supply chain manager Dan Boulton says.

Level 4 lockdown could lead to delays at the works depending on how long it continued and farmers could face problems if they waited, he said.

But he said the timing of the current lockdown was better than last year’s because livestock numbers were low. Lamb numbers were down between 20 per cent and 30 per cent nationally.

“That tells me farmers are sitting on lambs chasing higher prices. There’s a real risk with that as capacity may not be there. And as we get into the main season there is a risk there will be problems with the volume coming at us.” . .

Climate change work on track – Colin Williscroft:

Concerns about the effectiveness of Overseer by an independent panel will have little effect on agriculture climate change partnership He Waka Eke Noa, which is well on track to meeting its targets.

Programme director for the partnership between Government, industry and Māori Kelly Forster says Overseer is on its list of approved tools when it comes to raising awareness of farmers knowing their greenhouse gas (GHG) numbers and having a plan to measure and manage their emissions, but He Waka Eke Noa does not look at it as a regulatory tool and its ability to provide real-time data, which is the problem raised by the panel.

“We’ve said it’s suitable for building awareness, for getting an understanding of tracking direction,” Forster said. . .

How to keep safe during milking in a lockdown – Sudesh Kissun:

DairyNZ has developed advice, tools and resources to support dairy farmers and their teams to farm safely during the Covid lockdown.

It urges farmers to keep themselves and their employees safe at milking during COVID-19 with the following tips:

“We know from medical professionals that Covid-19 stays on surfaces for at least 72 hours and is transferred via droplets. This means that we have to be extra vigilant with the hygiene of our shared work surfaces, and that we must maintain a distance of two metres from others to minimise its spread over the next four weeks of lockdown.

“Traditionally, and especially in our herringbone milking platforms, we worked closely together and with no disinfection of our surfaces. To keep everyone safe, we now need to make changes to how we milk

Farmer protest a time for reflection – Melissa Slattery:

I also loved hearing farmers were dropping into foodbanks on their travels and donating some farmer goodness; that’s just such great stuff to hear and a great outcome for the day.

There’s no doubt the protest arose out of frustration. Many farmers are feeling overwhelmed by too many regulations, coming in too fast. There is a lot to consider and often the timeframes are too short to allow meaningful consultation.

As farmers, we’d rather not get bogged in politics. We’d much rather look ahead at what we can do to continue running progressive, environmentally sustainable and successful businesses into the future.  . .

Victorian agriculture still looks to horses – Rebecca Nadge:

While many sectors in agriculture have adopted technologies to improve efficiency, there are some places where traditional horsepower is still the best way to go.

Cobungra station, Omeo, was established in the 1850s and has both freehold and grazing leases across 30,000 hectares.

The station runs Full Blood Wagyu, and British breeds to use as recipients for an embryo transfer program

Station manager Bruce Guaran said almost all mustering was carried out on horseback. . . 


Rural round-up

16/08/2021

Confusion around new docking rules – Coin Williscroft:

New docking rules that came into force in May are causing concern and confusion among some farmers.

MPI announced the new regulations, which aim to improve sheep welfare by clarifying how tail-docking should be done and who can carry it out, at the end of last year.

A sheep’s tail cannot be docked shorter than the distal end of the caudal fold. This means the tail needs to be long enough to cover the vulva in ewes and a similar length in rams.

Docking too short could result in a fine of $500, or $1500 for a business, and if multiple sheep are involved that could lead to court proceedings. . . 

In perspective:

More and more farmers around the country are doing the right things in regard to environmental management. Recent reports by a number of regional councils around NZ show positive results when it comes to managing effluent on farms.

Meanwhile, despite winter grazing practices across the country coming under the microscope, there have been few reports of major breaches of the regulations. This is even more remarkable considering the flooding experienced in some regions.

For years, governments, councils, environmentalists, activists et el have been pushing for the agricultural sector to lift its environmental game. The evidence shows that farmers are responding and responding well!

However, anyone reading, listening or viewing mainstream media in NZ could be forgiven for thinking that the opposite is occurring. Every sector has its slackers, those who are not doing the right things, and farming is no exception. The industry, including farmers themselves, must continue to come down hard on those who let the whole sector down. . . 

Farmers living the dream – Sudesh Kissun:

‘ToViewADream Farming’ was started 16 years ago by farmer Dion Kilmister and it’s been living up to its name ever since.

Today, the business comprises of four farming properties finishing 17,000 lambs and 600 cattle a year. The jewel in the crown – a butcher shop in Masterton – opened last year.

The journey has been one of hard work, calculated risks, tragedy and resilience. Dion’s wife, Ali Kilmister, told their story at the recent South Island Dairy Event (SIDE) in Ashburton.

In January 2005, he arrived in the Wairarapa with first wife Maria and two children – Maria’s daughter Aleshia and their son Jayden. All they had were 70 steers that they had had out grazing in the King Country, and a $30,000 overdraft. . .

Growing the workforce – vegetable producer offers bonus for turning up to work – Country Life:

One of New Zealand’s largest vegetable growers is paying people a bonus for turning up to work.

Gisborne-based LeaderBrand has rolled out a raft of benefits in order to secure a workforce.

“I think our job now is to make it easy for people to come to work,” says LeaderBrand chief executive Richard Burke.

LeaderBrand employs 400 people across New Zealand and another 150 during seasonal peaks. . . 

Potato industry shows resilience – Annette Scott:

The New Zealand potato industry remains a growing sector despite enduring a challenging year.

Ahead of the industry’s annual forums, Potatoes NZ (PNZ) chief executive Chris Claridge reports the total value of the industry sits at $1.16 billion, amidst a year of crises and disappointment.

This represents a 58% growth rate since industry targets were set in 2013.

“This result shows the immense value of our processing sector, with 55% of our locally-grown potatoes producing fries and another 12% producing crisps,” Claridge said. . .

Tasmanian farmer finds a “nutty” way of beating power regulations – Andrew Miller:

A northern Tasmanian prime lamb producer has found a novel way around TasNetworks regulations, which restricts power generated on-farm to use in only one piece of plant, home or shed.

TasNetworks insists on a separate meter, for each point on the property using power.

That means electricity for most of the farm has to be purchased from hundreds of kilometres away, rather than using on-property generated power.

Simon Hackett has circumvented the regulations by linking an aircraft hangar, houses and shearing shed on his 70 hectare farm by cable to his 100kw solar system. . . 


Rural round-up

01/07/2021

New Aussie farm visas could spell more trouble – Sudesh Kissun:

A new farm work visa proposed by Australia could cause more misery for labour-strapped New Zealand farmers.

By the end of this year, the new visa will be in place, ending a requirement for British backpackers to work on Australian farms for 88 days.

The visa will be extended to 10 ASEAN nations: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

New Zealand’s dairy industry is a popular destinations for Philippine workers but they could soon be heading to Australia. . .

Caring for the rural community – Neal Wallace:

An endless appetite for work is a feature of many young farming couples, but as Neal Wallace discovers, by any measure Southlanders Jono and Kayla Gardyne have shown an exceptional commitment to their futures – albeit in different areas.

The tribe of magpies chose the wrong time to invade the Gardyne property.

A shotgun resting against a wall was evidence Kayla could no longer handle the disruptive noise and activity outside her home office window, as she studied for her medical degree.

The pests progressively came off second best with six magpies dispatched, reinforcing that not only were they unwelcome, but that Kayla needed to focus on her studies. . . 

Grazing support needed for flood-affected Canterbury livestock – Laura Hooper:

Federated Farmers Southland has supported the Ministry for Primary Industries call to Southland for grazing support for more than 5000 livestock as a result of the Canterbury floods.

MPI spokesoman Nick Story said: “Our feed coordinators are currently seeking grazing for more than 5000 sheep from the Canterbury region. The sheep are owned by seven different farmers.”

“There are also six listings of grazing being sought for almost 300 beef cattle.”

The “one in 200-year” weather event has damaged thousands of hectares of Canterbury farmland. . . 

Covid boost kiwifruit demand – Peter Burke:

In a somewhat ironic twist, the global Covid pandemic is helping to drive demand for New Zealand kiwifruit.

This season, Zespri estimates that it will sell a total of 175 million trays to export markets – well up on last season’s 155 million trays.

Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson told Rural News the very strong demand for kiwifruit last season has continued this season.

“More consumers have been looking for healthy and nutritious foods and kiwifruit obviously fits in perfectly to that growing trend, which we also saw last year,” he says. . .

Wool campaign pays off :

An additional $78,500 has been raised for the Southland Charity Hospital after 64,000kg of donated wool was processed free of charge for sale by wool scour WoolWorks.

The cash is in addition to the hundreds of bales of wool donated by farmers to insulate the hospital in memory of Southland man and cancer sufferer Blair Vining, who died in 2019 but used his illness to raise awareness about the inequality of treatment.

He also successfully initiated a petition to the Government to create a national cancer agency.

The Bales4Blair appeal was spearheaded by South Otago farmer Amy Blaikie, with the goal of collecting bales to be turned into insulation for the Invercargill hospital; 181 farmers and businesses made donations through 21 wool stores. . . 

2021 and Beyond – the future of agriculture – Stephen Burns:

Where is agriculture at the moment and where is it going?

That is the background to a forum to be held in Temora on July 27, 2021.

With high prices for their commodities and record values being paid for farming land, it would be understandable to assume primary producers are enjoying a ‘purple patch’ of returns which might induce a sense of complacency.

That is the last emotion Craig Pellow, director of agency QPL Rural, Temora, wants to see happen to famers who have survived many years of drought, so he is hosting this forum. . . 


Rural round-up

30/06/2021

Farm know-how needed to improve M bovis programme – Neal Wallace:

Ben and Sarah Walling have experienced every possible emotion in their dealings with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) during three Mycoplasma bovis incidents on their Southland farm, but their overriding sentiment is to laugh.

“You’ve got to learn to laugh about it or it just eats you up,” Ben, a Five Rivers calf rearer and bull finisher, said.

Despite that, he has a daily reminder of his situation; an ongoing legal dispute involving “hundreds of thousands of dollars” compensation sought from MPI, which he attributes to a rigid and inflexible system that ignores the reality of farming.

The dispute relates to the impact of falling beef schedule prices and supply contracts being cancelled while his compensation claim was settled. . . 

MPI failed farmers – Sudesh Kissun:

Ashburton farmer Frank Peters, who was forced to cull stock twice in three years, says the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has failed farmers.

Peters, who milks 1,400 cows all year-round on the family farm told Rural News that a recent University of Otago study that found the Government’s response to the 2017 Mycoplasma bovis outbreak was poorly managed and inflicted significant and lasting trauma on farmers was on the mark.

The two-year study included extensive interviews with farmers impacted by M. bovis in Southland and Otago.

Peters told Rural News that he would expect similar anecdotes from farmers whose stock were ravaged by the disease. . . 

Resource Management proposal positive on consultation, flawed in content:

The government should be applauded for a proper consultation process on replacement RMA legislation but Federated Farmers has significant concerns about local democracy being stripped away.

Reacting to the release today of an ‘exposure’ draft of the Natural and Built Environments Act, Feds Vice-President and resource management spokesperson Karen Williams said it was pleasing this initial round of submissions and select committee inquiry would be followed by a second select committee process early next year.

“If the poor process around the production of the unworkable Essential Freshwater regulations has taught us anything, it is to carry out a thorough and genuine consultation process, as distinct from the secret and exclusive process that led to that mess.

“A two-step consultation process for this first phase of replacement resource management laws is welcome,” Karen said. . .

Polar blast hits South Island – Neal Wallace:

Farmers are taking in their stride the first cold polar blast of winter, which has dumped up to 100mm of snow in parts of the South Island and is making its way up the North Island.

Plenty of advanced warning and the fact it has arrived in the middle of winter means farmers have not been caught out, although the snow has caused some access problems in Otago.

The snow missed flood-hit parts of Mid and South Canterbury, although the region has not avoided the single-digit wind chill.

WeatherWatch lead forecaster Phil Duncan describes it as a classic, normal winter polar blast, but for some areas in the path of the storm it will be the first snowfall for a number of years. . . 

Putting a number of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions :

A total of ten tools and calculators can now be used by farmers and growers to get an understanding of their current agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

He Waka Eke Noa Programme Director Kelly Forster says the second set of tools and calculators has been assessed, following the first tranche earlier this year. Assessed tools now include: Foundation for Arable Research’s (FAR) ProductionWise, Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s GHG calculator (available in July), and Toitū’s Farm emanage.

The full list and the industries they cover: . . .

 

Try the word sorry for size anti-meat academics told – Shan Goodwin:

RED meat’s overarching representative body has taken direct aim at academics espousing anti-meat rhetoric in a sign industry leaders are fighting back hard on unsubstantiated claims made in the name of promoting plant-based products.

The Red Meat Advisory Council has written to the vice-chancellor and principal of The University of Sydney, Professor Stephen Garton, demanding a public apology for a university-branded media alert on the new food labeling senate inquiry.

The inquiry is looking into the use of words like meat and beef on the packaging of plant-based products that do not contain any animal products. . .

 


Rural round-up

17/06/2021

Floods highlight farmers’ vulnerability – Nigel Malthus:

The vulnerability of the roads has become a major concern for Federated Farmers Mid-Canterbury president David Clark over a week into the clean-up following the region’s damaging floods.

Many road closures were still in force several days after the event.

“Delivering grain to the feed mill for us has gone from being a 30km trip to an 80km trip each way,” Clark told Rural News.

“We’ve got the [State Highway 1] Ashburton River bridge severely damaged and the slumping arguably is continuing to get worse,” he adds. . . 

Concern over SNA costs – Neal Wallace:

It will cost an estimated $9 million or $3000 per site for the Southland District Council (SDC) to map significant natural areas in its territory as required by the Government’s proposed biodiversity strategy.

The cost to ratepayers of councils having to identify significant natural areas (SNAs) is starting to materialise, but resistance is growing from private landowners concerned at the imposition on their property rights.

Although the National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity is not yet Government policy, the Far North District Council is suspending its SNA identification process after protests from Māori landowners, including a hikoi.

The Far North District Council estimates 42% of the district on land owned by 8000 landowners could have areas of high ecological value. . . 

Council pausing SNA identification work – Rebecca Ryan:

The Waitaki District Council is pushing pause on its work to identify significant national areas (SNAs).

Last month, the council sent letters to nearly 2000 landowners about proposed changes to mapping in the district plan review, advising them the new district plan would increase the level of protection for SNAs, “outstanding and significant natural features”, “outstanding natural landscapes” and wahi tupuna (sites and areas of significance to Maori) on their private land. The letters also included maps of the proposed new protective overlays on the properties.

Waitaki landowners hit back at the council, criticising the mapping process and saying the letters did not contain enough information about what the proposed changes meant for them. Many expressed fears about losing productive land and the impacts changes could have on the value of their land.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher announced the pause in the council’s SNA work yesterday. He said there was “too much uncertainty” as the national policy statement for indigenous biodiversity (NPSIB) was still being developed. . .

Zero-injuries goal major investment for Alliance -Shawn McAvinue:

Alliance Group Pukeuri plant manager Phil Shuker takes it personally when anyone gets injured at the meat processing plant, about 8km north of Oamaru.

The days of telling staff “to take a concrete pill and harden up” were over, he said.

Nearly 19 injuries were sustained for every 1million hours worked at Alliance sites across New Zealand.

The injury rate had fallen 80% in the past five years, he said. . . 

Back up the bus! – Sudesh Kissun:

Work together and stop throwing each other under the bus. That’s the message farmers delivered last week to Beef + Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ) at its first roadshow meeting in Glen Murray, Waikato.

About 35 farmers heard BLNZ chief executive Sam McIvor and director Martin Coup outline work being done by BLNZ on their behalf.

However, former Federated Farmers Auckland president Wendy Clark told the meeting that “there was a lot of throwing under the bus” during the Plan Change 1 consultation process.

Plan Change 1, introduced by Waikato Regional Council, is about reducing the amount of contaminants entering the Waikato and Waipā catchments. . .

Project pitches benefits of working with wool – Stewart Raine:

A new initiative focused on the recruitment, training and retaining of shearers and shed hands is expected to help ease the shortage of shearers across Tasmania.

The Wool Industry Workforce Development Project, funded by Skills Tasmania and coordinated by Primary Employers Tasmania, aims to attract young people into the industry.

It will provide coaching and mentoring throughout their developmental journey, and support farmers and contractors to improve workplaces to remove retention barriers. . .

 


Rural round-up

03/06/2021

The climate-change dilemma facing dairy farmers – milk more cows or cull the herd – is politically challenging, too – Point of Order:

From one Wellington  platform  Reserve  Bank governor Adrian  Orr is  telling  the  country   strong global demand for NZ primary products is ensuring the economy remains resilient during the Covid-19 pandemic and is helping offset tourism losses. He  says  Fonterra’s  forecast  of a  record opening milk price is “very good news” and is included in the bank’s projections.

From another platform, Climate Change Commissioner Rod Carr told hundreds of people – including farmers – at an agricultural climate change conference that for the agricultural sector there would be no way to wriggle out of slashing emissions.

Carr said agriculture made up about half of NZ’s emissions, and this needed to be reduced to meet climate obligations.International customers would go elsewhere, costing the economy billions of dollars in the coming years.

So  here’s  the  problem: . . 

Time for industry to be heard, leader says – Sally Rae:

“Maybe enough is enough.”

Otago Merino Association chairwoman Jayne Reed, from Cloudy Peak Station, near Tarras, was referring to the never-before-seen pressures the agricultural sector was facing, in her address to the annual merino awards.

“Not the usual seasonal weather worries, commodity price fluctuations and the odd flustering visit from the bank manager, which our fathers dealt with, but an increasingly scary onslaught of bureaucratic intervention … written in some cases by young idealistic policy makers who have never stepped on a farm.

“Our urban neighbours are telling us how to manage our outcomes without any real understanding of what 99% of us are working towards and this is the really disappointing part. . . 

Rural leaders plead to NZTA for second Ashburton bridge plans – Adam Burns:

Damaging floods in Ashburton have sparked calls for urgency around a second bridge by the district’s rural leaders, with the town’s sole overpass at risk.

The Ashburton River Bridge had to be closed for most of yesterday after reports of slumping. It has reopened to light vehicles only, but further testing for heavy vehicles is expected later.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern would not be drawn on questions around the second bridge issue when she fronted media in Ashburton yesterday.

“The priority right now is connecting people with Ashburton,” Ardern said. . . 

Perriam’s vision for breed recognised with family award – Sally Rae:

John Perriam is a man of vision, risk and “you can do it” approach.

Through his love for merino sheep and his home, Bendigo Station, he had “given it his all” and made a significant difference to the New Zealand merino industry.

That was his daughter Christina Grant reflecting on the pivotal role her father has played in the industry, during the Otago Merino Association’s awards evening.

She was presenting him with the Heather Perriam Memorial Trophy, named in memory of his late wife and her mother, and presented for outstanding service to the merino industry. . . 

Synlait braces for heavy loss – Sudesh Kissun:

Listed Canterbury milk processor Synlait is heading towards its first financial loss ever, but is telling its farmer suppliers not to worry.

The company revealed last week that it now expects to make a net loss of between $20 million and $30 million for the financial year ending this July. Last year, Synlait recorded a net profit of $75 million.

The milk processor has had a challenging 18 months. Key stakeholder, and one of its major customers, the a2 Milk company downgraded its forecasts because of disrupted markets and problems with its key Chinese market – leaving Synlait with large inventories of base powder and infant formula.

Synlait co-founder John Penno has returned to his former role of chief executive and is leading a reset of the business. . .

Are we running out of New Zealand wine? :

New Zealand winegrowers are becoming increasingly concerned about running out of wine after a smaller harvest than usual this year. The famous wine-growing region of Marlborough was especially hard hit by this issue. As an area famous for its excellent quality wine – particularly sauvignon blanc – that gets supplied across the country as well as internationally, this lack of grapes could potentially be disastrous for the wine industry as a whole.

Last year, spring was cooler than usual, with frosts occurring until unusually late in the season. This, combined with increasing costs of production, has made wine harvesting more difficult and expensive than usual.

Additionally, the New Zealand wine industry usually relies on the influx of seasonal workers on working holidays who are ready and willing to help with the harvest. With Covid closing the borders, these people have not been able to enter the country in the past year. Attracting New Zealanders into these roles has proved far trickier for many growers, especially those in more rural areas. . . 

 


Rural round-up

19/05/2021

ORC to seek controls over carbon forestry – Rebecca Ryan:

Otago regional councillors have voted to lobby central government for national changes to standards for carbon forestry.

Following concerns raised by the public and a visit to the site of October’s Livingstone fire, councillors and iwi representatives on the council’s strategy and planning committee discussed tree planting for carbon sequestration (carbon forests) during a meeting last week.

“Unlike plantation forestry, carbon forests are planted and left in perpetuity,” Cr Kevin Malcolm said.

“As forestry for carbon sequestration is currently a permitted activity in the Otago region, there’s not the same level of maintenance and hazard management expected for forests planted for harvest. This can lead to pest problems, depleted river flow in water-short catchments, and increased fuel loads for bush fires.” . . 

Farmers let down by government MIQ restrictions – Sudesh Kissun:

Farmers will continue to apply pressure on the Government and hope for a change of heart on the need for skilled overseas workers.

Earlier this month, the Government declined an application by the dairy sector for 500 skilled workers from overseas.

Federated Farmers immigration spokesman Chris Lewis says the Government is set to deliver its budget this week, aiming to grow the pie and reduce debt. “For that they would need the economy to grow, but how can you with your biggest export sector facing a worker shortage,” Lewis told Rural News. . .

We’re not a push over – Peter Burke:

Beef+Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison has fended off criticism that his organisation is too cosy with government and won’t speak out against it.

In recent weeks, there have been growing calls for the industry good organisations – Beef+Lamb NZ and DairyNZ – to be more vocal against some of the government reforms that are affecting farmers. But Morrison says people should judge them on the outcomes, not the outbursts.

He says right now an entity of 15 farming groups are working together to have a mature conversation with government around what is the best way to achieve some of these reforms so that they don’t impact negatively on the primary sector.

“None of the sectors are selling each other out to get a result. This is about an aligned agreement about what is the best way to construct policy, and throwing rocks doesn’t work – it just gets people offside,” Morrison told Rural News. “You can have heated, mature debates, but you still have to be respectful.” . . 

Awards finalist living her best life – Sally Rae:

Maniototo vet and farmer Becks Smith was a finalist for the recent Zanda McDonald Award for young professionals in the agricultural sector. She talks to rural editor Sally Rae about her passion for the industry.

Becks Smith genuinely has the best of both worlds.

A finalist for the recent Zanda McDonald Award, Mrs Smith works part-time as a vet at VetEnt in Ranfurly, while farming at Gimmerburn with her husband, Jason, and their young family.

As she looked out the window on a blue-sky Maniototo day, which started with a minus-seven degree frost, she reflected on how lucky she was to have that as her office. . . 

AgResearch collects top award for meat imaging technology – RIchard Rennie:

Sheep facial recognition, portable dairy processing, “green” batteries and meat quality tech were all winners at this year’s Food, Fibre and Agritech – Supernode Challenge. Richard Rennie reports.

The Food, Fibre and Agritech challenge, sponsored by ChristchurchNZ, KiwiNet and the Canterbury Mayor’s Welfare Fund aims to capture a range of disruptive technologies that can be commercialised to help address some of agriculture’s major challenges.

This year’s supreme overall winner was the AgResearch team headed up by Cameron Craigie for Clarospec. The team developed a machine to help deliver more consistent and objective lamb meat grading quality using hyperspectral imaging technology. 

The unit that is now operating in a commercial plant providing objective, precise information on lamb meat quality. . .

Red meat under attack – Shan Goodwin:

AMID the plethora of technical seminars and market analysis at Beef Australia this year, it seems a presentation from a Tasmanian orthopedic surgeon with no commercial ties to the red meat game has become the most talked about event.

Dr Gary Fettke’s address at a forum hosted by Agforce touched on everything from religion to diabetes and the breakfast cereal business to the origins of veganism but the overarching message was clear.

The beef industry needs to know where the anti-meat rhetoric started and plan a defence because it is under attack.

The demonisation of red meat has nothing to do with science, Dr Fettke said. . .


Rural round-up

11/05/2021

Primary sector exports defy challenges – Sudesh Kissun:

Primary sector exporters, take a bow.

Despite major challenges, New Zealand primary sector exports are holding up well. And it’s not just dairy products leaving our ports in droves – beef, apples, kiwifruit, wine and sheepmeat are also being shipped out.

According to BNZ’s latest Rural Wrap, NZ primary sector exports have been impressively resilient to the massive global economic shock over the past 12 months.

BNZ senior economist Doug Steel points out that exporters have been facing considerable challenges – many of which are ongoing.

Critical worker shortage on dairy farmers will take a toll:

Federated Farmers is deeply disappointed the government’s exception announcement today shows it could not find a way to bring 500 desperately needed skilled dairy employees into the country.

Feds believes the pressure some farming families are now under, due to a severe lack of people to work on farms, is already taking a toll on stress levels, wellbeing and health.

“Farmers have been telling us for well over a year there is a real shortage of suitable dairy staff,” Federated Farmers employment and immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“I am getting daily calls about the labour situation and many farmers don’t know what to do for the coming season. . . 

New Zealand horticulture industry welcomes Government’s decision to bring in more workers from the Pacific:

The New Zealand horticulture industry has welcomed the Government’s latest move to increase the flow of workers from the Pacific, in support of the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme. 

‘Pacific workers are an integral part of the horticulture industry’s seasonal workforce, particularly for harvest and winter pruning.  They make up the shortfall in New Zealanders while at the same time, enabling the horticulture industry to grow and employ more New Zealanders in permanent positions,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘Indeed, over the past decade, the New Zealand horticulture industry has grown by 64% to $6.49 billion while in 2019, before Covid struck, more than $40 million was returned to Pacific economies through the RSE scheme.  . .

Silver Fern Farms creates opportunities for young people to succeed in the red meat industry :

Silver Fern Farms will launch their search for the future stars of the red meat industry in the coming weeks, with applications opening for the Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships and the Silver Fern Farms Graduate Career Programme.

Since 2017 Silver Fern Farms has invested $130,000 to further the careers of young people through Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships, and has also placed nine young people in roles around the business in the Graduate Career Programme.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says the Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships and the Graduate Career Programme reiterates the commitment Silver Fern Farms has to developing young people and their careers. . .

Alternative proteins industry has huge potential but lacks direction – report – Maja Burry:

New Zealand’s alternative proteins sector has huge potential, but is fragmented and lacks clear leadership, according to a new report.

The report was done by FoodHQ, a group which represents the country’s food innovation organisations, and was based on input from 185 people working in the broader sector. Products considered to be emerging proteins include plant-based foods and beverages, insect foods and lab-grown proteins.

FoodHQ chief executive Abby Thompson said while there was huge potential to meet global demand for emerging proteins, the industry faced significant challenges.

“New Zealand is currently missing a co-ordinated approach that is going to help drive some of addressing infrastructure gaps that is going to really help with the attraction and retention and development of talented scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs who can really drive some of this stuff.” . .

New technology brings vegetables centre stage:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is enabling New Zealand to tap into the growing market for plant-based products, where vegetables feature as a ‘centre of the plate’ item.

A diverse range of new processed vegetable products is now available on the market, thanks to $147,000 investment from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund – and more innovation is under way.

The two-year project led by Food Nation, which kicked off in mid-2019, aimed to develop a range of plant-based ‘meat alternative’ foods using mushroom seconds and an array of other more novel plants.

One year on, it has made some exciting progress. . . 


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