Rural round-up

May 14, 2015

Drought conditions remain in South Island:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says farmers throughout the eastern South Island are still feeling the effects of drought, particularly in North Canterbury.

“It’s likely the medium-scale adverse event classification will remain in place until August or September this year, depending on conditions over autumn,” says Mr Guy.

“Despite recent rainfall, farmers and growers are still feeling the impacts of these prolonged dry conditions.

“In particular, the driest area is around Cheviot in North Canterbury which has been largely missed by most of the recent rainfall. . .

 

Drought takes its toll – feed an issue:

Federated Farmers North Canterbury say farmers affected by the drought are facing a tough year ahead and will be struggling with some tough decisions.

“It is not a great time for farmers in North Canterbury, most of us are facing a year of little to no feed, low stocking rates and substantial financial losses,” says Dan Hodgen, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chair. 

“With the drought leaving us with a significant lack of grass and crop growth, we are either having to sell capital stock at a much lower rate than we usually would or having to buy in supplementary feed. Some farmers are doing both.” . . .

El Niño pattern blow to Canterbury farmers – Susie Nordqvist:

North Canterbury farmers already in the grip of their worst drought in 60 years have been dealt another blow today.

NIWA says we are on the cusp of an El Niño weather pattern, meaning things are about to get even drier in the east and wetter in the west.

Canterbury’s trademark Nor’west winds are exactly what drought-stricken farmers don’t need.

“When you just get the wind likes this it’s stripping out the moisture in it,” says Federated Farmers north Canterbury president Lynda Murchison. . .

Relentless drought and El Nino means more water storage needed:

Today it was confirmed that drought conditions in the South Island will likely drag on until September this year, emphasising the risk of dry weather patterns to New Zealand and highlighting the need for regional water storage and irrigation infrastructure,” says Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ CEO. “These conditions are only likely to worsen in the long term and spread to other parts of the country as a predicted El Nino weather pattern sets in.”

Concerns about how these warm weather patterns will impact our economy were set out in a recent International Monetary Fund report

(http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2015/wp1589.pdf). As part of its findings, the report recommended further investment in irrigation. . .

Bay of Plenty set for good growth:

The Bay of Plenty region and its industries could grow substantially thanks to its resource, population, location and climate advantages, a newly published report reveals.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today released the Bay of Plenty Regional Growth Study, which shows that the region has a number of natural advantages and is well placed to attract further investment, raise incomes and increase employment.

“This study provides a detailed summary of the opportunities for the Bay of Plenty’s future,” Mr Joyce says. “It outlines the potential of the primary sector, manufacturing and tourism industries in particular to grow the region. . . .

Kiwifruit industry set for strong growth, thanks Prime Minister for support:

The kiwifruit industry came together to thank the Government for its support with efforts to manage the bacterial disease Psa, when the Prime Minister John Key visited Zespri’s Mt Maunganui office this afternoon.

Zespri chairman Peter McBride says senior representatives of postharvest, growers and industry organisations took the opportunity to show the Prime Minister how far the industry has come since Psa was first discovered in New Zealand in 2010.

“It’s hard to recall now just how uncertain and dark those days were, when we simply did not know how the industry could continue with Psa. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

November 29, 2014

Changes afoot in red meat sector – Allan Barber:

The much maligned red meat sector may at last be about to undergo a structural change if a majority of processors and farmers can reach agreement on a proposed capacity moratorium. Past history suggests that is a big IF, but a document being circulated among processors, Meat Industry Association (MIA), Beef + Lamb NZ, Federated Farmers and the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group contains a realistic basis for agreement on a solution to the capacity problem which has dogged the industry for years.

The concept proposes to issue plant and chain licences which would effectively freeze (excuse the pun) the number of sheep and beef processing plants and chains at the current level from the start of next season. The document suggests a 12 year moratorium on any new licences being issued as a means of protecting existing owners’ investment in the industry. . .

Lack of dairy workers a real concern – Susie Nordqvist:

Dairy New Zealand is warning the agricultural sector is in dire need of workers, and if we don’t do something to plug the gap there’s no way we’ll meet our target of doubling our primary exports by 2025.

Agriculture is an industry where jobs go begging, and the next generation of workers are in short supply.

“I think farmers need to pull up their socks a wee bit,” says dairy farmer David Fullerton.

By 2025 it is estimated there could be a shortfall of 8000 workers – so why isn’t agriculture attracting young workers?

“Each individual farmer has to build up a reputation of being fair and that’s time off, remuneration, housing, the whole works,” says Mr Fullerton. . .

Essential steps to protect irrigators:

Point, park and anchor – the three essential steps farmers have been advised to take to protect expensive irrigation equipment from being knocked down and damaged during high winds.

Rural insurer FMG has posted a new guide on this on its website.

The company and Lincoln University launched a joint study following the violent wind storms that hit Canterbury in September 2013, causing massive damage to plantations as well as hundreds of pivot or travelling irrigators on dairy and cropping farms.

It resulted in farmers and growers lodging more than 260 claims with the FMG at a cost of $7.6 million.

FMG’s advice and insurance general manager, Conrad Wilkshire, says more than 100 Canterbury farmers also contributed to the guide with practical advice on preventative measures taken to protect their machines. . .

Merino out of this world  – Tim Cronshaw:

Merino clothing has gone where no sheep has gone before – the final frontier.

Space is the latest extreme environment where high-performance merino T-shirts made from New Zealand wool are being worn. Nasa astronauts wear them on board the International Space Station and during training on Earth.

Armadillo Merino, a British company owned by the South Island family of Andy Caughey, began manufacturing a merino base layer range last year and has secured contracts with national military and police services and now the United States space programme.

Caughey said Nasa had up to 100 astronauts training at any one time, and their clothes needed to be suitable for both orbit and Earth. . .

Farmers and sheep protest at Eiffel Tower

French farmers have brought their sheep to the Eiffel Tower to express their frustration over increasing attacks by wolves that some say have been over protected by the government.

Some 300 sheep grazed at the foot of the French capital’s most famous monument on Thursday (local time) as the farmers gathered under foggy skies to demand an effective plan to stop the wolf attacks.

“Today farmers, tomorrow unemployed,” read one banner, while one of the protesters dressed as a wolf carried around a lamb.

But a rival demonstration by animal rights activists, calling for the wolves to be protected, also made an appearance under the Eiffel Tower. . .

All I want for Christmas is more AB:

LIC is making plans to get more cows in-calf at Christmas in response to high demand for its short gestation genetics offering and as farmers find new ways to maximise the benefits this season.

The leading genetics supplier for the national dairy herd has already set a new semen record this season with 142,006 straws for artificial insemination dispatched from its Newstead laboratory in one day. More than five million straws will be processed by Christmas Eve when the peak time usually ends – but this season farmers want more.

“It’s been a cracker of a season here at LIC, and the massive response to short gestation has been a huge part of that,” says Malcolm Ellis, SGL breeding programme manager. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 14, 2014

Integrated agri-food value chains – Keith Woodford:

Many New Zealand agri-food companies are still struggling to understand the global shift to integrated agri-food value chains. This move has been playing out most spectacularly in the infant formula industry, where the small companies have been badly caught out, but the trend is much broader than that.

A key driver is the need to have food safety systems in place that span from consumers back to producers. It is not simply a case of the food having to be safe, it is also a case of there being a transparent evidential trail. Food testing is just a small part of this system.
A major focus has to be on overall business systems that react to first stage mistakes before they compound into major events. It was just such a failure to react to the warning signals that led Fonterra down a shambolic path with the botulism scare in 2013.

There is also a key idea relating to provenance. Consumers not only want to know that something is safe; they also want to know that they are buying is what they think they are buying, and that the brand is genuine. . .

Milk spill stopper wins innovation award – Jamie Small:

The dragons have chosen, and another farm invention is one step closer to commercial success.

For the second year running, Fieldays had its own Dragons Den-style competition for agricultural innovations.

The joint initiative, run by Fieldays and Hamilton business incubator Soda Inc, selected nine innovators from a pool of 20 to present their gadgets to a panel of experienced investors and business leaders.

The top prize, Most Viable Business, went to Pahiatua couple Graeme and Alison Franklin with the DTexH2o. . . .

Primary Industry’s outlook good:

Federated Farmers believes the ‘2014 Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries’, released by the Ministry for Primary Industries, shows a promising future for the New Zealand economy thanks to kiwi farmers.

“This report shows an increase of 16.3 percent in primary sector exports, to $37.7b on the previous year, which translates to increased farmgate incomes of 22 percent and an increase in off farm spending of 11 percent,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers National President.

“These statistics remind us of the importance of exports to New Zealand, in particular the impact on farmgate incomes and spending on farm inputs, which has a direct influence on rural and provincial economies. . . .

Applauding the night away: superb exporters win top recognition:

Spectacular export growth of hundreds of chicken and turkey products has won Tegel Foods the Supreme Award in the 2014 Air New Zealand Cargo Export NZ Auckland export awards.

Prime Minister John Key presented the award last night at the Langham hotel in Auckland also attended by Auckland Mayor Len Brown and ‘Minister for Business’, Steven Joyce.

The judges said Tegel has been an iconic brand in New Zealand for more than 50 years and began developing export markets 11 years ago. . . .

Fonterra slapped with $150,000 fine over NZX disclosure – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – The New Zealand Markets Disciplinary Tribunal has fined Fonterra Cooperative Group $150,000 for breaching continuous disclosure requirements to the NZX during the dairy manufacturer and exporter’s botulism false alarm last August.

Auckland-based Fonterra undertook a world wide recall after it quarantined several batches of whey protein concentrate last August on concern it was contaminated with a potentially dangerous strain of clostridium bacteria, capable of causing botulism. The strain was ultimately shown to be harmless. . . .

Boys from the farm turn on the charm – Libby Wilson:

Fieldays’ rural bachelor contestants have done the hard yards in the leadup to their event.

The eight eligible blokes chased sheep, shot clay targets, and went zorbing on their journey from Auckland to Mystery Creek.

And the action continued yesterday, with fencing, speed-dating and cooking.

Yesterday morning they faced questions from Waikato women.

It seems ladies into a romantic but rural first anniversary picnic would be a good match with Wanganui’s Fraser Laird, 26. “I’ve got some back paddocks at the back of the farm. It’s got a bloody good view. Serious,” he said. . . .

Farmers encouraged to embrace technology – Susie Nordqvis:

Accounting firm Xero is laying down a challenge to farmers this week’s Fieldays: start embracing technology and innovation to maximise profits and grow the economy.

The innovation hub at Fieldays is not quite Dragon’s Den, but it is a sure fire way of fast-tracking participants onto the national stage.

“We have developed an ice maker that makes a slurry and you can reduce milk from 32degC down to 5degC in three seconds,” says innovation den participant Richard Upperton.

Xero says if more people followed Mr Upperton’s lead then the economy would be in better shape. . .

New Zealanders and shearing – Ali Ikram:

Sheep outnumber New Zealanders seven to one. 

They’re crucial to our economy and they get a bad wrap when it comes to their intelligence.

But there was one question we desperately wanted answered – as New Zealanders, can we all shear a sheep?

Is it innate in us – a birth-right?

Or are there some born and bred in cities who simply can’t shear, no matter what? . . .


Rural round-up

June 13, 2014

Farmers warned of dangers of meth labs – Susie Nordqvist:

Waikato police have told farmers at Fieldays they’re too trusting about whom they’re renting their farm cottages to, and tenants that end up using farmland for methamphetamine labs can cost farmers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“Basically the chemicals are all placed into this flask and then it’s boiled, well it’s heated, on an element [and] the pseudoephedrine comes off, and you end up with the finished product,” explains Detective Senior Sergeant Nigel Keall. . . .

Red meat delegation heads to China:

A major delegation of New Zealand red meat exporters is heading to China next week.

The group, being led by the Meat Industry Association, represents more than 95% of New Zealand red meat exports.

The Chairs, Chief Executives and other senior staff will meet with Chinese regulatory agencies, industry bodies and customers. . .

Sheep and sheep meats in China – Keith Woodford:

Last week I wrote about one specific region in China’s pastoral zone, high on the Qinghai Tibetan Plateau. This is just one part of China’s pastoral zone which extends for thousands of kilometres from Inner Mongolia across to Xinjiang and down through the western provinces of Gansu, Qinghai and Tibet. The precise numbers of sheep on these lands is unclear. It is not because the Chinese Government hides the correct numbers, but because pastoral farmers keep the numbers to themselves. The United Nations FAO agency estimates that in 2012 there were 187 million sheep in China, but no-one really knows.

What happens in China’s pastoral zone is important to New Zealand for two reasons. The first is that we are all part of a global environment, with sustainability a global issue. The second is that China is now New Zealand’s most important market for lamb and mutton; the gap between local demand and supply in China is the key driver of sheep industry profitability back here in New Zealand. . . .

Fieldays shoes might seem ‘exotic’ to Aucklanders – Mike McRoberts:

Footwear is an essential part of farming and also appears to be a big part of the National Fieldays this year.

Horselands’ Angie Gil is selling boots at the four-day event and says visitors are expecting a bargain.

“I think that you don’t come to park in a paddock and then walk around Fieldays to not get a bargain.” . . .

Minister welcomes KPMG Agribusiness Agenda:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has today welcomed the annual KPMG Agribusiness Agenda at the National Fieldays, noting the strong correlation between Government and industry priorities.

This year’s Agenda reiterated the importance of strong biosecurity and food safety systems, and highlighted uncertainty around a potential change of Government as a major point of concern across the over 150 industry leaders surveyed.

“I’m not surprised to see the significance of biosecurity flagged again by industry, and it has been my number one priority since becoming a Minister,” says Mr Guy. . .

The biggest myth about organic farming – Ross Pomeroy:

The majority of Americans believe that organic foods are healthier than food grown using conventional methods. The majority of Americans are wrong. Two systematic reviews, one from Stanford University and the other by a team of researchers based out of the United Kingdom, turned up no evidence that organic foods are more nutritious or lead to better health-related outcomes for consumers.

But the idea that organic foods are healthier isn’t even the largest myth out there. That title belongs to the widely held belief that organic farming does not use pesticides. A 2010 poll found that 69% of consumers believe that to be true. Among those who regularly purchase organic food, the notion is even more prevalent. A survey from the Soil Association found that as many as 95% of organic consumers in the UK buy organic to “avoid pesticides.”

In fact, organic farmers do use pesticides. The only difference is that they’re “natural” instead of “synthetic.” . . .

Families mark a century on the land – Sally Rae:

Since 1905, successive generations of the Simpson family have farmed Springside at Tokarahi in North Otago.

From draught horses to large, modern tractors and combine harvesters, each generation has kept up with new farming practices.

The Simpson family was among 42 families to attend the recent New Zealand Century Farm and Station Awards in Lawrence, for families who have farmed the same land for 100 years or more.

It was the highest number of families to be recognised for their commitment since the awards were first held in 2006. . .


Rural round-up

June 11, 2014

Sector in good heart – judge – Sally Rae:

After travelling 3800km in nine days, visiting 27 farms throughout New Zealand, Preston Hope is heartened by the state of the sheep industry.

Mr Hope, who farms with his wife, Tori, at Deep Stream, between Middlemarch and Outram, was one of three judges for the final round of the New Zealand ewe hogget competition.

The couple won the competition in 2012 and it was an honour to be asked to officiate, he said. . . .

2014 New Zealand wine vintage to support export growth:

The 2014 New Zealand grape harvest has been completed with high quality grapes picked across the country.

“All grape growing regions experienced very favourable growing conditions through the summer and into the early autumn. 2014 is set to be another memorable, high quality vintage which will provide a further boost to growing wine exports” said New Zealand Winegrowers Chief Executive Officer Philip Gregan.

According to the 2014 Vintage Survey, 445,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested. The 2014 crop is up 29% on the harvest last year and will position the industry well for the continuing consumer demand for New Zealand wine. Virtually every region has achieved production growth and for the first time Nelson, Waipara and Central Otago have exceeded 10,000 tonnes. . . .

Skilled and off-farm jobs the growth areas for agriculture – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – Support services will be the biggest source of job growth for an increasingly sophisticated agricultural sector, a report on the future workforce needs of primary industries concludes.

Projections for the Ministry of Primary Industries, published today, forecasts that some 140,000 primary sector support services jobs will be required by 2025, compared with around 105,000 now, making it the fastest area of job growth and the largest source of employment in the primary sector, which covers sheep, beef, dairy and other animal farming, horticulture, fishing, and forestry.

Sheep and beef farming shows the largest fall in projected workforce size will be in the sheep and beef sectors, where jobs are expected to shrink to around 70,000 by 2025, from around 95,000 in 2002. The booming dairy sector shows hardly any job growth in the next decade, settling at around 50,000. . . .

Accommodation shortage of Fieldays – Susie Nordqvist:

It might be the biggest event of its type in the Southern Hemisphere, but Fieldays management says the event’s future growth could be threatened by an accommodation shortage in Hamilton.

So canny locals are cashing in and renting out their homes.

“I’m renting out my house to exhibitors who are exhibiting over the week of Fieldays, and I’m going as far away from here as I possibly can,” says homeowner Sam Ward. . .

Forest owners want people to speak up

The sponsors of the Independent Forestry Safety Review welcome the public consultation document issued by the review panel on Friday.

”It poses a series of questions which will provide a useful structure for the public consultation meetings that begin on 12 June. We strongly encourage forest owners, contractors, workers and anyone else with an interest in improving the safety of people working in forestry to go to one of the meetings, or to make a private submission,” says Forest Owners Association (FOA) president Paul Nicholls. . . .

New Zealand Avocados Achieve Record Sales For 2013-14 Season:

New Zealand’s avocado industry today announced it has more than doubled its sales from last season to $136m, setting new records in both export and New Zealand markets.

This stunning return eclipses the previous sales record of $84.1m set in 2009-10 and is far in excess of the $60.4m worth of avocados sold last year.

Jen Scoular, Chief Executive of NZ Avocado, says this season’s success is due to a number of reasons including initiatives which are transforming the industry into a more cohesive and competitive sector. . . .

B+LNZ Sheep Industry Awards 2014:

Help us recognise the best of the best in the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards. Nominations close 30 June.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is excited to be hosting our annual showcase for sheep farming excellence in Napier this year, the first North Island venue for the event. . .

Search for top NZ rural consultants gets closer

Nominations for the annual Consultant of the Year Awards have closed and Farmax is one step closer to announcing this year’s top New Zealand dairy, sheep and beef, and emerging rural professionals.

Farmax general manager, Gavin McEwen, said the awards were developed last year to recognise the expertise and value agricultural consultants and rural professionals provide to the New Zealand pastoral farming industry, which often goes unnoticed.

“On a regular basis we see first-hand the invaluable service that rural professionals provide farmer clients with. The feedback we receive from farmers about their consultants is really uplifting. It shows just how much of a difference consultants can make to their clients’ businesses,” Mr McEwen said. . . .


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