Rural round-up

04/11/2021

Growing regulation causing added stress for dairy farmers – Survey :

A  new industry survey has found many dairy farmers are feeling under pressure, despite strong prices.

DairyNZ has just released its annual View from the Cowshed report, which was based on the feedback of 425 farmers who opted to be surveyed between April and May this year.

It found 17 percent of farmers were feeling more positive than they were last year, but double that number were feeling less positive.

More than half of those surveyed said they or someone on their farm had experienced a mental health issue in the last year. . .

Dairy is a key to New Zealand’s future – Keith Woodford:

No-one has yet found an alternative to dairy for New Zealand’s export-led economy

The New Zealand economy is export-led. That is the way it has to be for a small mountainous country in the South Pacific, largely bereft of mineral resources and with minimal manufacturing, but blessed with a temperate maritime climate and lots of rain.

Alas, both history and current realities tell us that New Zealand has limited international competitive advantage in relation to technology-based engineering. That statement will be offensive to some, but the hard reality is that we cannot be considered world-leading in relation to chemical, electrical or mechanical engineering beyond small niche areas. Nor are we internationally competitive in relation to manufacture of pharmaceuticals.  And when we do develop new technologies, it is not long before the owners typically set up manufacturing closer to the big international markets, using international equity to finance that move.

The painful reality is that pharmaceuticals, computers, televisions, cars, trucks, fuel and even much of our food comes from overseas.  That includes rice, bananas, apricots and most bread-making wheat.  Open the pantry door and have a look at the small print as to where most of the tinned food comes from. Most of it comes from Australia, China and Thailand. . . 

 

 Surfing for farmers kicks off for another summer – Maja Burry:

Farmers are preparing to get back out on the water, with the Surfing for Farmers programme kicking off again this month.

This year the initiative is being run at 21 different beaches around the country, with six new locations coming onboard and hopes of up to a thousand individual farmers taking part.

Surfing for Farmers was launched in Gisborne in 2018 and encourages farmers to take a couple of hours each week to head to the surf to help better manage stress and improve their mental health.

While some regional organisers were waiting a few more weeks for the water to warm, others were diving straight in, with an event planned at Ōhope Beach in Bay of Plenty tomorrow. . .

2021 2022 Ballance Farm Environment Awards to proceed nationally :

Despite the interruptions of COVID-19, the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust is delighted to confirm that the 2021/2022 Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) will proceed as planned throughout the country, including the new Catchment Group Award.

Even with the disruptions caused by the changes to alert levels in Auckland, Northland and Waikato the awards have received a pleasing number of entrants across the country allowing the programme to continue albeit with some adjustments to ensure the safety of all involved. “Our regional committees have worked hard with the farmers and growers in their communities to ensure a worthwhile and rewarding programme can be completed,” said Joanne van Polanen, Chair of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust. “It is more important than ever that the great initiatives and work being done by farmers and growers is being celebrated and shared with others.”

The BFEA programme has been slightly adapted to make it safer and less onerous for entrants given the current COVID-19 situation. This includes the requirement for all judges and entrants to be vaccinated and one round of judging being used to complete the full judging process, thus limiting the amount of contact between entrants and the judging panels.  . . 

Galatea dairy portfolio offers robust returns :

With the New Zealand dairy sector re-asserting itself as a key global protein source, investment interest in the sector has been heightened in the past year.

This spring the opportunity to invest in dairy’s ongoing fortune has presented itself with a portfolio of properties in the Galatea district, southeast of Whakatane.

The Barkla Portfolio offers a platform for either an owner-operator seeking a larger-scale farm operation, or an investment group wishing to participate in a rural investment capable of delivering strong cash focused returns. . . 

Our history with bee pollen :

Ambrosia – The Food Of The Gods

Our story starts over 100 million years ago. Our world was very different. Two huge land masses dominated, Gondwana in the South and Laurasia in the North. The landscape would have appeared very different to our modern world – towering conifer forests, the first flowering plants had just started to bloom; dinosaurs ruled the land, flying reptiles ruled the sky and giant marine reptiles ruled the sea. Our descendants were little more than small, nocturnal mammals living in the shadow of the mighty T-Rex, Iguanodon and Triceratops.

The first flowering plants hailed the introduction of the hero of our story – the bee. The oldest record we have of a bee dates to over 100 million years ago, preserved perfectly in amber, and bees had probably been around for over 30 million years previously. . . 


Rural round-up

07/07/2021

Farmers contribute much to NZ’s balance of payments and our standard of living – but some ministers don’t grasp this reality – Point of Order:

Global  prices for New Zealand products  from the  agricultural sector, as measured on the ANZ Commodity Price Index,  have risen for eight consecutive months to hit a  new  record in May.  Prices on the world index  are  up 18% this  year, or 17% in  local currency terms.

Some  economists are predicting more  rises  are  in  store  this  year.

The  gains  have  gone  some way in the  balance of  payments to offset big losses on  the  foreign  currency  front  from the overseas tourism and   international education sectors.

Westpac senior agri-economist Nathan Penny says being a food producer has been positive during Covid-19 as people still need to eat in times of crisis. . . 

EU biofuel goals likely behind major deforestation in last decade, report says

European Union targets to boost biofuel use are likely to have led to the deforestation of an area roughly the size of the Netherlands over the last decade to expand soy, palm and other oil crops, a report says.

About 4 million hectares of forests mainly in Southeast Asia and South America have been cleared since 2011 – including about 10 percent of remaining orangutan habitat, according to estimates by campaign group Transport and Environment (T&E).

That suggests efforts to replace polluting fuels such as diesel with biofuels are paradoxically increasing planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions, said Laura Buffet, T&E’s energy director.

“A policy that was supposed to save the planet is actually wrecking it,” she said. “We cannot afford another decade of this.” . . 

Primary industry heroes honoured by peers:

A collaboration that will reduce emissions and accelerate green hydrogen infrastructure, a company that has taken our honey to the world and an initiative to boost farmer mental wellbeing by taking them surfing have been recognised by their primary industry peers.

Food and fibre sector achievers were recognised at the 2021 Primary Industries New Zealand Awards dinner at the Air Force Museum of New Zealand in Christchurch last night, with seven winners named from 65 nominations.

A favourite with many of the more than 500 farmers, growers, foresters and fishers present was the winner of the Team Award, sponsored by BASF. Steven Thompson from Bayley’s Rural Real Estate started helping farmers get out on the ocean waves as a way to leave the stress of their busy roles behind them for a few hours. Surfing for Farmers now boasts a team of 50 volunteers and has spread to 16 regions, with nearly 3000 farmers taking part.

“For most farmers it is their first time on a surf-board. Steven says when farmers come out of the water, it’s like a reset for them,” judges noted…

Retaining farming’s voice – Paul Crick:

As farmers, we are skilled at managing what happens inside the farm gate; it is the externalities, the factors we cannot control, that can cause the greatest amount of stress.

There has been a paradigm shift in our sector. So, it is pleasing to see Beef+Lamb New Zealand’s renewed strategy reflecting this change.

Two of the organisation’s three priorities are “outside of the farm-gate”, namely championing the sector and increasing market returns. The third priority, supporting farming excellence, means they will continue to deliver extension and support farmers to run sustainable and profitable farming systems.

This strategy shows that the organisation will do the advocacy and market development work on farmers’ behalf.

Who’s eating New Zealand? – Farah Hancock:

If you imagine New Zealand’s sheep meat as a plate of 10 meatballs, Kiwis would get to eat half of a meatball. So where’s the rest going? In the first story in a new series, Farah Hancock crunches more than 30 years of data to find out who’s eating New Zealand.

New Zealand produces enough food to feed about 40 million people but given our population is just 5 million, who are these people we’re feeding and what are they eating?

And in the land of milk and honey, how much is left behind for Kiwis?

RNZ has looked at some of our biggest merchandise export earners and some of our highest profile products to see who has been eating and drinking New Zealand over the past 30 years. . . 

Cannasouth to buy out cultivation and manufacturing joint venture partners:

Leading medicinal cannabis company, Cannasouth Limited has today entered into two conditional agreements to acquire the balance of the stakes that it does not already own in its cultivation and manufacturing joint venture businesses.

Acquisition of outstanding interest in Cannasouth Cultivation Limited

Cannasouth has entered into a conditional agreement with Aaron Craig and his family interests (Craig Family Interests) to acquire the remaining 50% stake in Joint Venture business Cannasouth Cultivation Limited that Cannasouth does not already own.

Cannasouth Cultivation has built a state-of-the-art growing and processing facility that will produce medicinal cannabis flower biomass at highly competitive production cost. It is energy efficient and more environmentally sustainable than indoor cultivation operations. . . 

Large rural land holding teed up to sell:

A substantial rural land holding in one of Mangawhai’s high growth areas has been placed on the market for sale.

The 50.14 hectare farm, is located near the internationally renowned Tara Iti Golf Course, and within a short drive to the Mangawhai Central development and the area’s famous surf beach.

The property at 213 Black Swamp Road is being marketed for sale via a tender process (unless sold prior) on 21 July, by Bayleys Country property specialist John Barnett. . . 


Rural round-up

12/12/2020

Freshwater reforms may stifle farm profitability by 83% per year – report  :

Farm profitability across the Ashburton District is expected to decline 83 percent per year due to the government’s freshwater reforms, a new report states.

The changes are aimed at improving the quality of waterways and include new rules for winter grazing, nitrogen pollution and farm intensification.

The desktop report, requested by the council, notes dairy farming takes place on nearly a third of the district’s agricultural land and would be the hardest hit financially.

“The regulations will challenge existing farming systems with a number of established farm practices needing to change, and new technology and innovation adoption will be required.” . . 

‘We’ve been given a real wake up call’ – Alice Scott:

Will Halliday says he acts much the same as a farmer on a drafting gate when new proposals and ideas come across his desk.

“In terms of biosecurity and animal welfare, there is a lot to keep ahead of when it comes to New Zealand’s sheep and beef industry. The expectations of our trade partners are very high. For me it’s keeping an eye on the horizon and making sure the demands and regulations put forward are achievable in real world situations.”

Part of the “drafting” process involves consultation with the
B+LNZ farmer councils.

“Talking to our people on the ground that are actually out there doing it and discussing what will work and what won’t. . .

Sheep farming runs in the blood – Mary-Jo Tohill:

The Robertsons were not meant to continue sheep farming.

In 1998, the West Otago couple were advised to go dairying. It would be more lucrative. But it was the dual-purpose Romney all the way to the bank.

“The accountant thought we were crazy,” fourth generation sheep farmer Blair Robertson said.

“We sacked the accountant and got a new one.”

Borrowing to buy the family farm at Waikoikoi between Tapanui and Gore has meant huge debt servicing and it has been a tough grind for the past 20 years, but they are living their particular dream. . . 

A life’s work of plant breeding – Richard Rennie:

Ten years after the kiwifruit sector was all but wiped out by Psa, Te Puke plant breeder Russell Lowe takes some humble satisfaction knowing his work brought it back from the brink to become the country’s highest value horticultural crop.

Lowe has been part of Plant & Food’s kiwifruit breeding programme at Te Puke for 30-plus years and while just retired, he continues to keep a watching brief on how future breeding work is coming along.

Today’s world-leading kiwifruit breeding facility is a far cry from the wooden bungalow, maize crops and pile of orchard posts that greeted him and his wife when they arrived in the early 1970s. 

He had got the position after completing a major in chemistry at Canterbury and building an interest in horticulture while working in the Horotane Valley over the holidays. That had been followed by a stint at the then DSIR Research orchard in Appleby in the Tasman district as a horticultural technician. . . 

Proudly sponsoring Surfing for Farmers since 2018:

Our Kiwi farmers and growers leave everything they have on the field, they give their all to support New Zealand’s economy and ensure we have access to the very best food and beverage. However, this does take a toll on their wellbeing and mental health. Helping farmers and growers take care of their mental health is as important to Ballance Agri-Nutrients as the health and safety of our own team, that’s why we are a founding partner of the Surfing for Farmers programme.

“The health, safety and wellbeing of New Zealand farmers is an important topic,” says Jason Minkhorst, GM Sales, Ballance Agri-Nutrients.

“When you consider all the factors that farmers deal with on a daily bases such as working remotely, animal welfare, financial pressure, consumer demands, media and lobby group commentary, long hours and weather events like drought, it is easy to understand why mental health is an issue in rural New Zealand. . . 

Network 10 signs Rabobank to help Farm to Fork cooking show

Agribusiness lender Rabobank is partnering with Network 10’s television cooking show Farm to Fork.

The bank – a global specialist in food and agribusiness and one of the leading providers of Australia agricultural financial services – has joined with Network 10 and Farm to Fork’s producers Dual Entertainment as a partner in season two of the television program.

The show, which airs nationally on weekday afternoons, aims to help inform Australians how to eat and live well.

The program aims to inspire viewers to not only cook at home but also have a better appreciation of where and how their food is grown. . . 


Rural round-up

09/12/2020

Natural fibres could be a game changer – Annette Scott:

The launch of a new natural fibre company is set to re-emerge wool and hemp to the forefront of a global sea-change in consumer preference.

In a move to innovate for a greener tomorrow, NZ Yarn, a subsidiary of Carrfields Primary Wool (CP Wool), and hemp processing company Hemp NZ have joined forces to create New Zealand D a natural fibres and materials business with global ambitions.

NZNF chair Craig Carr says the new company is aiming to be a pioneer in the global natural fibres revolution.

Products will be made from renewable NZ-grown hemp and wool, as well as blends of the two fibres using proprietary technology to prototype, produce and market a wide range of consumer and industrial options. . . 

How do we brand differently? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The marketers are telling us that they have no choice – but to pursue it.

Big names like Danone, Cargill and Walmart are all trying to show they are being environmentally responsible by sourcing regenerative agriculture (RA) products. Danone is planting trees to offset activities. Cargill is encouraging farmers to move from permanent cropping monocultures in areas bigger than most New Zealand farms to no-till rotations. Walmart is aiming for ‘beyond sustainability’ across its supply chain – including agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

To support the move, environmental auditors are growing in number. . . 

Getting off the land and into the waves – Rebecca Ryan:

North Otago and South Canterbury farmers are being encouraged to get off their farms and into the waves this summer.

Surfing for Farmers, a mental health initiative which helps farmers manage stress by teaching them to surf, started in Gisborne in 2018. It has since spread to 15 other locations across the country, and will launch in Kakanui at Campbells Bay on December 9.

Surfing for Farmers founder Stephen Thomson got the idea from the Netflix documentary Resurface, about US soldiers with PTSD using surfing to help their rehabilitation.

He secured some sponsorship from local businesses, found a surfing instructor and put the word out to local farmers. . . 

Proposal to bring bubbles of 300 RSE workers to Hastings for managed isolation – Marty Sharpe:

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins is considering a proposal to turn a former Hastings motel into a Managed Isolation and Quarantine facility specifically for 300-strong bubbles of returning fruit pickers from the Pacific Islands.

The proposal was included in a plan submitted by Hawke’s Bay councils and local horticultural and viticultural industries to the government last month.

The industry and councils are concerned about the huge shortage of workers and the “significant social and economic impact for New Zealand and the Hawke’s Bay region”.

The RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) scheme usually brings in 14,000 workers. The government has agreed to allow 2000 workers in under strict conditions. These would add to the 5000 still in the country, meaning there would be roughly half the usual number of RSE workers for the upcoming picking season. . . 

‘Meat the Need’ way for farmers to help most vulnerable – Sally Rae:

Farmers feed people.

That, as West Coast dairy farmer Siobhan O’Malley succinctly puts it, is their job. And, in the case of “Meat the Need”, the charity she co-founded, farmers are helping feed those particularly in need.

Last month, Mrs O’Malley and Golden Bay dairy farmer Wayne Langford received the industry champion award at the Primary Industries New Zealand Awards for Meat the Need, which kicked off during the first week of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Originally focused on supplying meat to City Missions and foodbanks, Meat the Need receives meat given by farmers, which is then processed and packed by Silver Fern Farms and delivered. . . 

 

What if the United States stopped eating meat? – Frank Mitloehner:

If Americans’ gave up meat and other animal products, would that solve our climate crisis? Research says no. In fact, it continues to demonstrate giving up meat would be a woefully inadequate solution to the problem of global warming and distracts us from more impactful mitigation opportunities.

But that’s not what certain people, companies, and news outlets would have you believe. Businesses invested in plant-based alternatives and lab-grown meat continue to exaggerate the impact of animal agriculture in efforts to convert meat-eaters to their products, mostly in the name of environmental health. But if Americans choose to forgo meat, it would have a minimal and short-term impact on the climate.

In 2017, Professors Mary Beth Hall and Robin White published an article regarding the nutritional and greenhouse gas impacts of removing animals from U.S. agriculture. Imagining for a moment that Americans have eliminated all animal protein from their diets, they concluded such a scenario would lead to a reduction of a mere 2.6 percent in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions throughout the United States. Subscribing to Meatless Monday only would bring about a 0.3 percent decrease in GHG emissions, again in the U.S. A measurable difference to be sure, but far from a major one.

As an aside, the solely plant-based agriculture hypothesized by Professors Hall and White would result in various negative results, economic and nutritional among them. For example, we would be able to produce 23 percent more food by volume, but the plant-based food would fall short of delivering essential nutrients to the U.S. population, they concluded. . . 

 


Rural round-up

09/01/2019

Chucks empire lays golden egg – Bryan Gibson:

For many in business 1987 was a bad year but for Max Bryant it was the beginning of something special.

Under pressure from the bank over a kiwifruit development that hadn’t panned out Bryant decided to build a chicken shed at home in Halcombe, the small Manawatu settlement where he lived.

Thirty years later he has sold the company, Proten, for $400 million.

Bryant estimates about $60m of that will stay with shareholders in the district, who were ground-floor investors.

He admits Proten has come a long way since that first shed was built out the back. . . 

A new wave of stress relief – Luke Chivers:

The Gisborne farming community is testing the waters this summer and seeing how surfing can be used as a way to let off steam.

Staff at AgFirst have created a programme dubbed Surfing for Farmers to help rural communities reduce stress and it works, AgFirst consultant and programme founder Stephen Thomson said.

“When you get off the farm and into the water it’s like taking a plunge into another world.

“For an hour or two you forget about everything else.” . . 

It’s time to look at soil health – Dr Han Eerens:

Spare a thought for soil — arguably our most underappreciated natural resource.

Globally, 95% of the food we consume comes from the earth. Soil serves as the earth’s largest natural water filter helping supply the world with fresh, clean water. Additionally, one-quarter of the world’s biodiversity — including millions of microbes which are key to the success of today’s antibiotics — are found in soil. Yet despite all this our soil is being destroyed at a rapid rate. . . 

Mycoplasma bovis eradication is far from done and dusted – Keith Woodford:

There is a widespread belief in both the rural and urban communities that Mycoplasma bovis is well on the way to being eradicated from New Zealand. My response here is that there is a still a long way to travel before any declarations of success are appropriate.

In December, Prime Minister Ardern, no doubt choosing her words carefully and based on official advice, talked of ‘substantial progress’.  However, the broader tone of both MPI and DairyNZ messaging has led to parts of the media and then the general public taking a further step and concluding that the battle is almost over. . . .

A career in dairy might be more different than you think

Fonterra Chief Operating Officer of Farm Source and Global Operations, Robert Spurway, says a career in dairy doesn’t necessarily mean milking cows.

According to Primary ITO chief executive Dr. Linda Sissons, one in five applicants for their new dairy apprenticeship programme are from Auckland. The programme, in partnership with Federated Farmers, is responding to the need for an estimated 17, 000 new workers by 2025. It will encourage more smart, innovative and ambitious people – including those from urban centres – to consider a career on a dairy farm.

This is great news because with increasing animal welfare, environment, and compliance requirements, number 8 wire will only go so far. Today, our farmers need to be everything from agronomists, environmental scientists, veterinarians to high-tech experts. . . .

New Wanaka A&P Show campaign explores what it means to be “local”:

The Wanaka A&P Show today launches a timely campaign about the sense of community and what it means to be a local in Wanaka.

The ‘Call Me Local’ campaign is a tongue-in-cheek inquiry into the tricky question of ‘how long does a person have to live in Wanaka before they’re considered a local?’

Correspondingly, Wanaka is experiencing significant growth, development and change – leading residents to prioritise the sense of ‘community’ even more. The Wanaka A&P Show campaign acknowledges this to remind people about the importance of being part of a community. . . .


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