Rural round-up

September 7, 2017

The leap from farming to cheese:

The Berry family’s journey from farming to specialty cheese began in 1987.

Such a leap was triggered by a huge upheaval in our rural communities. In 1984 all farming subsidies were removed, product prices halved and interest rates ballooned to 23-24%.

When Rob Muldoon was voted out Roger Douglas and Labour inherited a broken economy. ‘Rogernomics’ and the ‘free economy’ were born, which crippled our rural communities resulting in many farmers leaving the land and numerous farmer suicides.

In our case, North Otago had the added challenge of crippling droughts. We had a pretty large farming operation, which included a high country run and two down land properties. I decided the former could stay as it was, while the down country farms would be used for cropping and stock trading. . . 

A very good move – Pam Tipa:

Any initiative that helps train health professionals ready and willing to work in rural communities is good, says Michelle Thompson, chief executive of Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ).

The Government announced last week a plan to establish a school of rural medicine within the next three years to train doctors for rural and regional areas.

Two proposals are now before the Government: one from the University of Waikato and the Waikato DHB, the other a joint proposal by the Otago and Auckland medical schools. . .

Rural-community-fights-for-cell-phone-and-internet-connection – Kate Taylor:

As the traveller turns off State Highway 2 at Oringi, south of Dannevirke, the cellphone coverage hovers around three or four bars. Further down the road they start to disappear and have gone completely 10 minutes later when the Manawatu River bridge is crossed and the road winds towards Kumeroa.

This isn’t unusual for thousands of rural roads around the country. Farmers all over New Zealand put up with landlines reminiscent of the 1980s and satellite broadband costing a small fortune. . .

Becoming Kiwi: A Filipino with a passion for farming – Deena Coster:

For Joseph Domingo, Taranaki has given him the chance to live his dream.

Born and raised in the Philippines, Domingo made the difficult decision to leave his homeland shortly after he completed his tertiary education in animal science.

It was a choice driven by economics and a desire for seek out new opportunities.  

Domingo said competition for jobs in the Philippines is fierce and a university education doesn’t guarantee work in a country with a population of 103 million people. Only about 60 per cent of tertiary educated people get work there, he said.

“The best opportunity for me and my family was to move overseas.” . . 

‘Justifiable milk price increase must be passed back to farmers’ – Sylvester Phelan:

Yesterday’s GDT (Global Dairy Trade) auction has again demonstrated the continuing strength of butterfat prices, with the butter price up 3.8% and AMF (Anhydrous Milk Fat) up 3.6%, according to the IFA’s (Irish Farmers’ Association’s) National Dairy Committee Chairman, Sean O’Leary.

Taken together with continued strong European market return trends, it is clear that a price increase on August milk of at least 1c/L is fully justified, the chairman stated. . . 

Nursery’s charitable trust thrilled with Ballance Farm Environment Awards involvement

Just to be a finalist was an absolute thrill for Gary and Adrienne Dalton and the Te Whangai Trust in this year’s Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Winning the region’s Hill Laboratories Harvest Award made it even sweeter, Gary says. . .

Why my husband is head of the family – Louise Giltrap:

After being called sexist, Louise Giltrap feels the need to explain what she really feels about her husband’s place in the family.

 My last column about how women cope with stress struck a chord with a lot of people. Rural women out on the farm everyday especially identified with it.

Men read it and said it was like having a penny drop for them. Their wives had been telling them, but all of a sudden it made sense.

The bit some people got up in my grille about was what I said to the men out there, “You are the heads of our families.”

That’s just my opinion. Even though I’m headstrong and opinionated and have my roles within our agribusiness, Geoff is the head of our family. . . 


Lifetime achievement award for Bob Berry

February 29, 2012

The New Zealand Specialist Cheese Association has presented Whitestone Cheese founder Bob Berry was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contribution to the country’s speciality cheese industry.

Bob started his working life as a stock agent before taking over his own farm. He and his wife Sue started Whitestone Cheese in 1987 in an attempt to overcome the ag-sag.

We were privileged to be at the company’s 25th anniversary celebrations and listened in admiration to the story of how the company started and grew. Whitestone now supplies delicious cheeses to outlets throughout New Zealand and has a growing export market.

The company has been a consistent winner in cheese awards since the early days and in last night’s Cuisine Champions of Cheese awards notched up another two wins – the Vintage Blue won the Ecolab Champion Blue Cheese Award and the Whitestone Range won the Caspack Champion Cheese Packaging Award.

The Oamaru Mail reports:

The company’s flagship cheese, Windsor Blue, has won more awards than any other cheese in New Zealand. Whitestone Cheeses have also been included in gift packs at the Oscars after-parties in the US.

Whitestone Cheese attributes its success to the use of locally sourced ingredients, including rich North Otago milk and traditional cheesemaking techniques.

Earlier this month son and general manager Simon Berry told the Oamaru Mail his father was often still on the road promoting the brand.

“Bob will never retire. He’s a bit like an old farmer; always tapping away at his fences,” he said.

He also acknowledged how Whitestone Cheese had become a proud North Otago institution, creating plenty of regional pride among his workers and the wider community.

“There is a bit of a culture of pride. We’re up there with the world’s best and we’re just from little Oamaru.”

The pride is justified, the cheese is delicious and most of it is named after North Otago localities or geographical features.

You can find out more about the company and order cheese online here.

If you watch the TV ad on the front page, you’ll  hear Bob and get an idea of his passion for his cheese.

The full list of 2012 Cuisine Cheese champions is here.


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