Rural round-up

May 16, 2020

Frighteningly different priorities – Peter Burke:

In the cities people are clambering over each other to get the first Big Mac or piece of deep-fried chicken, not to mention a ‘real’ coffee.

So fanatical were some individuals for a fast-food fix that they were stupid enough to risk undoing the good work of the rest of the country by not sticking to the rules of physical distancing.

Having said that, a few idiot politicians and community leaders have yielded to temptation and broken lockdown rules, setting a poor example. Their actions are insulting to the rural community – farmer, growers, people who work in meat processing plants, packhouses and other facilities to provide food for these unthinking individuals.

And don’t let’s forget all the other essential workers that are the unsung heroes of this crisis.

Nothing for our most productive sector in Budget – National:

Budget 2020 hasn’t provided anything of note for the primary sector at a time when it is leading our nation’s rebuild, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

He says the Government’s claim of ‘rebuilding better’ is nothing but a meaningless slogan for the primary sector. Muller says costly Government proposals like Essential Freshwater are still on the way, there’s no large-scale water storage funding and not enough support to secure the 50,000 workers needed to stimulate the sector.

“Covid-19 has thrown our country into a deep economic hole and we’re now relying on our food and fibre sector to get out of it.

We should be encouraging this sector to grow and maximise its potential but funding has gone backwards. With farmers and growers across the country experiencing the worst drought in living memory this season, it’s disappointing to see no significant investment in water storage,” he says. . .

Farmers want new house rules – Gerald Piddock:

Dairy industry leaders have asked the Government to amend its covid-19 ban on landlords evicting tenants after reports of dairy staff exploiting the rules by refusing to leave supplied housing as the season draws to a close.

As a result, new staff moving onto the farms can’t move into the houses in time for the new milking season in June.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis said the circumstances usually involve a staff member who was exiting dairying when the new rules became law. . .

High country – isolation goes with the territory – Kerrie Waterworth:

Adjusting to the isolation of Covid-19 restrictions has been difficult for many urban dwellers but for families on high country stations isolation goes with the territory.

Duncan and Allannah McRae run Alpha Burn Station, a 4519ha high country beef, sheep and deer farm at Glendhu Bay, 15 minutes drive west from Wanaka.

Before the Covid-19 crisis their two sons, Archie (15) and Riley (13), were at boarding school in Dunedin but they had returned home and were learning online.

Mrs McRae said both she and her daughter, Hazel (10), have had to adjust to having the two big boys back in the house. . . 

Taratahi might host short courses – Neal Wallace:

The Taratahi campus could again be training young people, albeit for short-term courses introducing prospective students to agricultural careers and proviing extra skills for existing workers.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has confirmed the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry of Social Development are considering funding DairyNZ to develop and deliver three-week industry familiarisation programmes at the Wairarapa facility.

The future of the campus has been in limbo since the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre was put in liquidation in December 2018. . .

Want safe affordable food? Reward those who produce it – Peter Mailler;

The world is certainly a paradise for anyone looking for an issue to express an opinion about this week, but I want to take a different approach.

Rather than trotting out my take on the barley tariffs issue and the complete insanity that is diplomacy with China by media, I thought I would try to foster a discussion on an earlier opinion published in The Gauge section and constructively contest some ideas around an issue that I think goes to the core of how the agricultural sector presents itself to the rest of the country. . . 

 


Rural round-up

April 3, 2019

Westland Co-operative Dairy demise is self-inflicted – Keith Woodford:

The approaching demise of Westland Co-operative Dairy (trading as Westland Milk Products) has come as a surprise to many people.  It should not have done so.  At the very least, either a partial sale or major joint venture has been inevitable for some years. Survival as a co-operative is now impossible.

Most of the people I talk to think the sale to Chinese company Yili is a very bad idea. West Coasters do not like it. Even Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor is of that opinion. And if a sale really is necessary, then the common perspective seems to be that it should be a local company.

In response, I say ‘dream on’. . . 

Taratahi owes creditors $31 million – Neal Wallace:

Employees will get what they are owed but nearly 1200 unsecured creditors will have to wait to see if they will be paid any of the $15.8 million they are owed following December’s collapse of the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre.

An interim report by liquidators Grant Thornton says the sale of livestock will cover preferential creditors, employees, who are owed $2m, and Inland Revenue, owed $655,000, but there is no indication on the fate of other creditors.

Taratahi’s 518ha Mangarata farm is being readied for sale, over which Westpac has a secured mortgage, along stock, plant and shares. . . 

Crop work went like clockwork – Alan Williams:

Cropping demonstrations across cultivation, drilling, harvesting, balage and silage proceeded without a hitch at the South Island Agricultural Field Days at Kirwee in Canterbury.

Twelve or so hectares can sound like a lot of land area but with several different crops being grown on adjacent strips and some machinery being 10 metres wide there’s not a lot of margin for error.

It helps that each crop and activity is worked at separate times but there’s still a lot of planning and a lot of people to organise. . . 

Forestry sales at record high – reports – Eric Frykberg:

New evidence is emerging of a booming forestry sector.

It follows last month’s report from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) showing 2018 forestry sales at a record high.

Since then, the Seattle based think tank Wood Resource Quarterly has highlighted New Zealand’s role in growing imports of logs by China.

Wood Resource Quarterly said the Chinese took a total of 40 million cubic metres of lumber through their ports last year.

That was over a third more than just three years earlier. . .

Cushing family’s H&G to buy 2.2% Wrightson stake from Agria – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – The Cushing family’s H&G vehicle has agreed to buy a 2.2 percent stake in rural services firm PGG Wrightson from Agria Corp. for $8.3 million.

H&G has agreed to pay 49 cents a share for 17 million Wrightson shares, matching Friday’s closing price. Agria owns 351.6 million shares, or 46.6 percent of the rural services firm, having divested a 7.2 percent holding in December when Ngāi Tahu Capital withdrew from a seven-year pooling arrangement with Agria and Chinese agribusiness New Hope International. . . 

Record number of beekeepers have their say in latest check:

Almost a half of the country’s registered beekeepers have taken part in an annual survey to understand bee health, losses and beekeeping practice.

More than 3,600 beekeepers completed the 2018 Colony Loss Survey, which was carried out on behalf of Biosecurity New Zealand by Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research.

“The numbers of beekeepers participating in the self-reporting survey represents 47 per cent of New Zealand’s registered beekeepers and 42 per cent of registered colonies,” says Biosecurity New Zealand’s biosecurity surveillance and incursion (aquatic and environment health) manager, Dr Michael Taylor. . . 

Miscanthus – a carbon negative crop:

Most annually harvested crops require a lot of activity to get them established, grown and harvested. They need cultivation of the soil, weed control, planting, fertiliser, harvesting, sometimes waste disposal, packing and loading on a truck. Most of them need all that every year. In many cases, there is further cultivation, planting and cutting of a cover crop during the off season as well. Again, every year!

Miscanthus on the other hand needs cultivation, planting and weed control – once in at least 15 years – perhaps 25 years – plus harvesting and loading on a truck every year from year 2 onwards. There is also no waste to be disposed of with Miscanthus. There is no need to cultivate the soil again, no need for ongoing weed control, no need to replant, no need for fertiliser in most cases.  . . 


Fears for training of future farmers

February 7, 2019

The government is throwing millions at fee-free tertiary education but there’s no cash to spare for training future farmers:

Federated Farmers board member Chris Lewis said the liquidation of Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre a month ago was the latest sign that the government needed to overhaul certificate-level tertiary education for staff in the primary industries.

“This has been an issue for a long, long time. A lot of providers have come into the industry and set up training but a lot of them have left or have struggled and at the end of the day it comes back down to it’s not financially viable to run training for young farm staff because they don’t get enough funding from the government.”

Mr Lewis said there was a shortage of trained farm staff and some courses did not provide the skills that farmers needed in their workers.

Craig Musson from the National Trade Academy said few tertiary institutions were still offering certificates in skills for land-based industries and those that were, were struggling.

He said too few students were enrolling and government funding was inadequate for the costs involved.

“In our sector it’s not a classroom, white board and a teacher. You have to have tractors, motorbikes, quads. You’ve got to have fencing, you’ve got to have stock and with all that comes repairs and maintenance and replacement of equipment and a normal business doesn’t have those same costs,” he said.

Mr Musson said the government paid about $10,000 for each full-time agriculture student studying a certificate course and institutions received a further $3000 to $4000 in fees.

That was not enough given the small class sizes and high overheads for courses in farming skills and it was especially hard if students dropped out and could not be replaced, he said.

Mr Musson said more education providers would go out of business unless things improved.

“It’s obviously just getting more and more difficult for the providers that are left and eventually it becomes that it’s not financially viable to do the training any more,” he said.

“You only have to have a bad year as far as feed costs and then you’ve got fuel costs because we have to travel to farms to do the milkings, we have to do field visits and that’s a massive cost that most providers would not have either.”

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said changes would be made as part of wider reform of the vocational education and training system and the government was aware there was urgent need in the agriculture sector.

“We’re looking very closely at the agricultural sector given its importance to the New Zealand economy, the desperate need for more skilled labour in that area, but actually the problems facing agriculture are the same as problems facing many other industries around the country so we’re looking very closely at vocational education generally,” he said. . . 

Neal Wallace says a new training model is needed:

. . .By its very nature educating primary sector students is more expensive and intensive than other vocational courses.

It requires students to live on working farms, to be given a student-centric education – you can’t teach fencing on a blackboard – and it comes with high compliance and pastoral care costs. Taratahi had a ratio of one staff member to 10 students. 

But it appears to have finally succumbed to the millennial factor.

Fewer young people are choosing farming as a career, while numbers of potential students have shrunk because of successive years of low unemployment allowing those who would normally seek training to go directly in to work.

Telford and Taratahi have struggled to grow their rolls in recent years and are required to repay the Tertiary Education Commission $10 million for being funded for more students than were enrolled.

Not dismissing the obvious distress to students and staff, collapsing on the eve of Taratahi’s centenary adds to the misery.

But its centennial legacy, from what can best be described as an educational train wreck, is that Government and education officials can no longer ignore the essential issue of creating a sustainable sub-degree funding and administrative model for primary sector education.

Tina Nixon also notes two fundamental problems with the future success of primary sector vocational training:

The government: The present government [and those of the past] has never really understood the sector, the cost of training or really got to grips with the woeful performance of the Tertiary Education Commission [TEC], the body that decides what will be funded and how.

This became patently evident when I first became involved with Taratahi.

I suggested that it got into training beekeepers, which, as it turns out, has been lucrative.

The process for actually delivering beekeeping courses took months –  TEC should be geared up alongside NZQA to get ahead of industry demand but it doesn’t – they lag  at least a year, sometimes a lot longer.

TEC is without a doubt one of the most bureaucratic organisations I have ever interacted with, and I have worked with a few.

It has not served the country and its governments well. I applaud the current government for looking to overhaul the tertiary sector, but I condemn it for the short-sightedness about how best that overhaul is carried out.

If the TEC and its current administration survive the next year, then this government will have failed the sector.

The government’s decision not to fund Taratahi was based on advice from TEC —  behind closed doors with no chance for Taratahi to talk directly to the ministers involved.

So, Taratahi doesn’t even know what was presented – but the $30m touted by some as what was required for the organisation to continue  is wrong. What they needed was $5 million – pretty much the same amount it had repaid of the previous administration’s legacy debt. . . 

A request for just $5 million was turned down when the Provincial Growth Fund showers much more on far less worthy projects.

So what of the future?

If the community leaders consign all that has been learned and achieved by Taratahi in 2-1/2 years into the dustbin, then they will be condemned to creating yet another failure and snub some of the best educationists in the industry.

What we need  to see is Taratahi rise again in the next few months – underpinned by all the good systems and knowledge built up in the past two years, within a newly-framed tertiary education sector with the required funding levels. With all that in place, it will become an enduring engine room for primary sector talent development.

The primary sector can do some on-the-job training but that is no substitute for what can be done in dedicated training institutes like Taratahi and Telford if they are properly funded.

 


$490,191 per job

February 5, 2019

The Provincial Growth Fund, like KiwiBuild, has over promised and under delivered:

Shane Jones’ Provincial Growth Fund has created just 54 jobs in its first year, making a mockery of the Government’s claim to be helping regional New Zealand, National’s Economic and Regional Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“The Fund is all about maximising NZ First’s re-election chances in 2020 but the Prime Minister is fully on board, turning up in small towns supposedly with an open cheque book and a feel-good soundbite. Trouble is, it’s big on hot air and miniscule on substance.

“Despite all the hoopla, only 38 of the 135 announced projects have received funding and just 3.4 per cent of the funding has actually been paid out. That’s $26.6 million for 54 jobs, or the equivalent of $490,191 per job.

That money would employ a lot of teachers, nurses or police officers.

“That’s a dismal outcome considering the mountain of press releases, town hall meetings and hyperbole being rolled out by this Government. Mr Jones would have you believe he’s the saviour of the provinces but the only thing he seems intent on saving is his political career.

“The facts about the PGF are elusive and the Government hasn’t willingly disclosed what’s really going on. It has taken endless questioning by National to penetrate the layers of Government obfuscation.

“Meanwhile, Mr Jones’ claims become more fanciful every time he speaks. Prior to Christmas he claimed 4000 jobs had been created as a direct result of the PGF. A day later that had jumped to 9000. In reality the Fund is as shambolic as KiwiBuild – an epic fail that has seen just 47 of 100,000 houses actually built.

“What’s worse is that the Government fails to understand the basics of employment, in terms of helping young, unemployed Maori in particular. Their job prospects have dimmed as a result of 90-day trials being dumped and the massive increase in the minimum wage.

“National favours sensible economic policies that nurture New Zealand’s economic growth, create more jobs and help lift all our communities. That’s the route to prosperity. Carefully stage-managed publicity events in the regions are just politics.”

The regions do need investment in some areas which are government business including infrastructure and health services.

It started by axing funding for roads and irrigation and has done nothing more for health services. Instead of helping, it is refusing to help Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre, is funding SIT to take over Telford Farm Training Institute for only one year and is closing rural maternity centres.

Instead of investing money where there is genuine need it has allowed the PGF to give out money to projects at what looks like whim and, in many cases, without a proper business case.

It has also provided a serious disincentive to real and sustainable job creation in the private sector with the threat of so-called fair pay agreements that would take us back to the bad old days of the 1970s.


Rural round-up

February 3, 2019

January ‘hottest month’ on record but farmers say growing season ‘extraordinary‘ – Matt Brown:

January in Marlborough has matched the record for the region’s hottest month since records began in 1932.

The month also smashed the record for days above 30C, with 10 sweltering days compared to the previous record of six in 1990.

But hotter days and cooler nights saw the month tie with January 2018 and February 1998 for the title of ‘hottest ever month’ in Marlborough with the mean temperature of 20.7 degrees Celsius, Plant and Food Research scientist Rob Agnew said. . .

 Up to 75 jobs from new North Waikato chicken hatchery – Gerald Piddock:

The opening of a multimillion dollar chicken hatchery in Waikato’s north has bought with it between 50 and 75 jobs and economic benefits to the entire region, say locals and iwi leaders.

Owned by American poultry giant Cobb Vantress, the $70 million hatchery in Rangiriri West, north of Huntly, currently employs 50 staff. That will expand to between 70-75 people once it is fully operational later this year.

For locals Stephen Pearce and Phillip Lorimer, employment at the hatchery was too good of an opportunity for locals to pass up. . . 

Rural sector scares off trainees :

Using Landcorp farms in a restructured vocational education training system for the primary industry is one option being considered by the Government.

Farming leaders have called on the Government to buy Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre’s Masterton campus from the liquidators to secure future vocational farm training, saying once gone it will be difficult and costly to replace.

“It is crucial that facility in Masterton remains available to agricultural training,” Federated Farmers chief executive Terry Copeland says. . .

Plantain research a game-changer for farmers :

Game-changing new research into how plantain crops can reduce nitrogen loss from dairy farms will put upper Manawatu farmers at the forefront of dairy science.

Dairy farmers in the Tararua catchment face reducing nitrogen loss from pastures by an average of 60% to meet the Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council’s One Plan targets.

To achieve them farmers are adopting a range of on-farm changes and the region’s new plantain research could be a key component. . .

Farmers sick of being treated as rates ‘mugs’:

Farmers are out of patience with councils that treat them as cash cows, with a new Federated Farmers survey showing less than 4% believe they get good value for money from their rates.

“It’s local government election year and those chasing our votes can expect some very pointy questions on why average council rates in New Zealand jumped 79.7% between June 2007 and June 2017 when inflation (CPI) for the same period was only 23.1%,” Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says. . . 

Navajo shepherds cling to centuries-old tradition in a land where it refuses to rain – David Kelly:

More than a hundred rowdy sheep pressed up against the gates of the corral as Irene Bennalley drew near. Dogs yipped, rams snorted.

Just after 7:30 a.m., she flung open the pen and the woolly mob charged out in a cloud of dust. Well-trained dogs struggled to keep order as the flock moved across the bone-dry earth searching for stray bits of grass or leaves.

“Back! Back!” the 62-year-old Bennalley shouted at the stragglers separating from the flock — ripe pickings for coyotes or packs of wild dogs. . . 

Photos reveal Queensland cotton farms full of water while Darling River runs dry

These photos were taken by the Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick from a light plane over southern Queensland near Goondiwindi, on Wednesday.

They show rivers such as the Condamine relatively full, and storages on cotton farms holding thousands of megalitres of water.

Yet three hours away in north-west New South Wales, the Barwon and Darling rivers are a series of muddy pools. . . 


Rural round-up

January 23, 2019

Small actions add up in reducing emissions – Ken Muir:

Farmers can undertake immediate practical steps to begin reducing emissions from their farms, DairyNZ climate change ambassador Dean Alexander says.

”It’s important to realise that there’s no great silver bullet and there are some basic things farmers can do now,”

Mr Alexander, who farms a herd of 1100 cows near Winton, said. He said it was important for farmers to develop an understanding of their systems.

”Once you have some idea of your emission status, you can begin to evaluate your options.” . . 

Benefactors’hopesaredashed – Neal Wallace:

For 99 years graduates of Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre and, for 54 years, from Telford in south Otago have worked on and progressed to owning farms. But all of that potentially came to an end before Christmas when a liquidator was appointed to resolve financial problems with the business. Neal Wallace profiles Taratahi.

The Taratahi and Telford farm training campuses have similar genesis. The formation of the not-for-profit private vocational farm training educators was made possible through generous bequests of land and industry and community support.

In 1918 Sir William Perry gave his Wairarapa farm to the Government to provide a training ground for servicemen returning from World War I. . .

It’s green but maybe not for long – Neal Wallace:

It might be the middle of summer but most of the country is still under an open fire season though Fire and Emergency is warning abundant vegetation growth could very quickly become potential fire fuel.

Usually, by mid-January dry conditions mean most of the country has fire controls, Fire and Emergency rural operations manager John Rasmussen said.

This year half the country can still light fires in the open without a permit because regular rain has kept vegetation green.

But Rasmussen said those conditions can change very quickly as summer gets drier.

Export lamb prices come off peak but Outlook strong despite Brexit – Heather Chalmers:

Export lamb prices remain at historically high levels, despite uncertainty over Brexit which coincides with the key Easter lamb trade.

Alliance Group livestock and shareholder services general manager Heather Stacy said Brexit could impact on the amount stock held in Britain and exchange rates, depending on what was agreed.

“It could be disruptive. It will affect customers in the UK, rather than New Zealand.” . . 

Cleaning up with goat milk – Yvonne O’Hara:

 Malcolm Gawn and wife Tracy Tooley decided they did not like Auckland traffic or the long commutes, so they moved to Balclutha and now they make soap from goat milk.

Mr Gawn said when they met about 10 years ago he was a corporate sales manager in Auckland and Ms Tooley was an anaesthetic technician there.

‘It got to the point we did not want to tolerate traffic, traffic lights and road works,” Mr Gawn said.

”We moved to an 8ha block near Balclutha with about 30 Saanen dairy goats and with no traffic lights, no roundabouts and no queues.”

Rural jobs fund runs out – Basant Kumar Mohanty:

The rural job guarantee scheme has run out of funds for this financial year, with activists fearing the implementing agencies will now hesitate to take up new projects, thereby denying paid work to the people.

According to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act website, the net balance is now Rs 1,719 crore in deficit. This means the rural development ministry has exhausted the entire funds of Rs 59,567 crore released towards the programme for the 2018-19 financial year.

The scheme guarantees paid, unskilled work for up to 100 days a year to every rural household.

Social activist Nikhil Dey said the scheme would be crippled for the two-and-a-half months left in this financial year, adding to the rural distress, unless more funds are released. . . 

https://twitter.com/HumanProgress/status/1086883280224505856

 


Rural round-up

January 15, 2019

Bid to save Telford – Neal Wallace:

Invercargill’s Southern Institute of Technology is preparing a lifeline for the Telford campus of the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre, which was put into liquidation before Christmas.

At a meeting at the South Otago campus today SIT agreed to prepare a proposal for Education Minister Chris Hipkins, in which it will become the education provider.

Telford Farm Board chairman Richard Farquhar hopes a deal can be secured in time for this academic year.

Information is being sought from Taratahi’s liquidator for a proposal to Hipkins, who, if he supports it, will then seek Cabinet approval. . . 

Helping others succeed – Tim Fulton:

Leadership starts with self for the 2018 Dairy Woman of the Year Loshni Manikam. Tim Fulton reports.

After 20 years of life in rural New Zealand Loshni Manikam has a real insight of the Kiwi agricultural psyche.

“I believe there’s this huge gap,” Manikam says.

“I feel like farming people know how to care about land, stock, neighbours – everything except themselves and I want to help change this.” . . 

Sharemilkers ready for competitions – Sally Rae:

Southland herd-owning sharemilker Luke Templeton jokes he has had a couple of moments of weakness lately.

Mr Templeton (30) signed up for both the FMG Young Farmer of the Year and the Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards.

Next month, he will compete in the Otago-Southland regional final of the Young Farmer of the Year.

The practical and theoretical modules of the event will be held at the Tokomairiro A&P showgrounds in Milton on February 16, followed by an agri-knowledge quiz at the Milton Coronation Hall at night. . . 

Pair to attend congress in US :

Tyla Bishop hopes a trip to the United States in July will broaden her understanding of global food production.

Tyla (17), a year 13 pupil at St Kevin’s College in Oamaru, is one of six TeenAg members from throughout New Zealand chosen to attend the 4-H Congress in Bozeman, Montana

She lives on a 700-cow dairy farm in the Waitaki Valley and is working on another dairy farm during the summer holidays to help pay for the trip. . .

Stricter penalties proposed for contaminated food:

National’s Food Safety spokesperson Nathan Guy is backing calls from the food and grocery sector for tougher penalties for those who intentionally contaminate our food or threaten to do so.

“My Member’s Bill seeks to achieve what Damien O’Connor appears unwilling to do – protect New Zealanders from those that would threaten our food safety, be they reckless pranksters or people intent on nothing less than economic sabotage.

“Recent events here in New Zealand and across the Tasman, such as the strawberry needle scares, have identified the need for greater sanctions to prevent these sorts of idiotic behaviours. The food and grocery sector has been ignored in its calls for tougher laws. . . 

Horticulture supports harsher penalties for food contamination:

Horticulture New Zealand supports a Member’s Bill, announced today, that will introduce harsher penalties for people who intentionally contaminate food, or threaten to do so.

“Recently, we have seen some incidents of intentional contamination of fruit in both Australia and New Zealand and people need to understand the full and serious implications of such sabotage,” Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says. . . 


Rural round-up

January 13, 2019

No rescue for Taratahi :

A rescue package for the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre was rejected by the Government last year, which left the national training provider no option but to face liquidation.

The Farmers Weekly has been told the package consisted of cost savings, a restructured business and courses, the planned sale of the 518ha Mangarata farm in the Wairarapa, a $6 million working capital cash injection and moratorium on refunding over payments to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC).

Last year the Government spent nearly $100m bailing out Unitec, Whitireia and Tai Poutini polytechnics. . .

The vegans are coming, so Kiwi farmers need to give us something to believe in – Daniel Eb:

Environmental limits, changing tastes and a redefined social licence are driving consumers away from animal proteins. In part two of a series on the rise of veganism, Daniel Eb looks at what New Zealand must do to get on board.

There is a sense of impending transformation ahead for agriculture in New Zealand. The world’s richest consumers – New Zealand’s target market – want products that speak to their identity. They are increasingly perceiving value in terms of experience, and are less willing to tolerate our production-first model. In short, they want something to believe in. In the second part of this series on veganism I outline a way forward, an opportunity to re-imagine our value as food producers and our impact on the world. . .

Postive start for wool sales – Alan Williams:

The calendar 2019 wool sales season in the South Island started brightly, with indications of business being written in China, and helped by lower volumes.

Crossbred prices remain at depressed levels and there are still issues to be faced, but the positive start was refreshing, with finer crossbred wools up to 6% dearer at Christchurch on Thursday, and strong wools up to 2% better, PGG Wrightson’s South Island sales manager Dave Burridge said.

The small volumes of new season’s lambs’ wool were keenly sought after, with prices well ahead.  . .

Meet the couple at No.1 State Highway, Far(thest) North – David Fisher:

At the point in the road where there is little left of State Highway 1, you’ll find Herb and Colleen Subritzky.

In the evenings they sit on the deck of their home, overlooking the road – New Zealand’s longest road stretching more than 2000km from Cape Reinga in the north to Bluff in the south – nursing cold beers and listening to birds filling the silence of the Far North.

All day, buses and cars race by their home to cover those final few kilometres to Cape Reinga. At 6pm, the main parking area shuts and the flow reverses, dwindles then stops. From then until morning, it must be one of the quietest stretches of road in the country. . . 

Eight vie for Otago/Southland FMG Young Farmer title – Sudesh Kissun:

Two former workmates at the iconic Mount Linton Station are set to clash in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest.

Jacob Mackie and Allen Gregory, who are both 25, will go head to head in the Otago/Southland regional final in Milton next month.

“I can’t wait. I really enjoy the challenge of competing. It pushes your boundaries and makes you work on your weaknesses,” said Allen. . . 

Farmer credits his dog with fighting off attacking steer – Kristin Edge:

Johnny Bell reckons his little dog, Jade, saved his life by fighting off a steer that bowled the veteran farmer and was attacking him on the ground.

The canine companion then ran along the road to get help for her wounded master who had been knocked unconscious. Bell’s front teeth had been smashed out, his right eye severely bruised as was his ribs and legs.

What was not immediately evident was the Northland farmer was suffering a brain bleed. . .


Rural round-up

January 10, 2019

No pay for Taratahi staff – Neal Wallace:

Staff at Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre cease being paid from this week but have not been made redundant.

Tertiary Education Union organiser Kris Smith said liquidators had advised staff by letter that pay was being suspended from the end of this week but that they were not being made redundant.

She understood there were approximately 200 staff across all Taratahi campuses in Wairarapa, South Otago, Taupo and non-residential campuses in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Manawatu, Hawke’s Bay and Southland. . . 

Eco-tourism business booming – Sally Rae:

Southland has been investigating how best to boost its tourism opportunities, aiming to hit $1billion in tourism revenue by 2025. Business reporter Sally Rae speaks to one tourism operator in the region who is excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.

When Johan Groters and Joyce Kolk realised they needed to make their tourism venture into a ”proper” business two decades ago, there was no such thing as a business plan.

In fact, if someone had asked to see such a document, they would have looked at them blankly, Ms Kolk laughs.

All they wanted to do was ”make ends meet and have fun doing it” and they have maintained that philosophy as their eco-tourism operation in Western Southland continues to grow in ”leaps and bounds”. . . 

Labours recover ‘lost’ waterfall – Richard Davison:

A 15-year ”labour of love” is going viral for a pair of bush-walking cribbies from Papatowai, thanks to the power of the internet.

Local man Wayne Allen’s interest was piqued when he discovered the Catlins had several ”forgotten” waterfalls among its total of 140, alongside tourist drawcards such as Purakaunui and McLean Falls.

When he learnt one of them was a long-lost 20m cataract just 20 minutes south of his Papatowai crib, the die was cast.

”I set out with Peter [Hill] to see what we could see, just with a view to exploring initially . . 

 

Fonterra’s Farm Source™ to sell livestock division to Carrfields Livestock:

Fonterra has today announced that it will sell the Farm Source™ livestock division to Carrfields Livestock – an established livestock agency provider.

Richard Allen, Farm Source™ Stores Director, says the decision to sell was made in the context of a larger review underway within the Co-op.

“In the context of the review of the Co-op’s assets and investments, we have made the decision to sell the livestock division to Carrfields Livestock. This will better serve the livestock team and the farms they service. . . 

Dutch Courage: the little Kiwi cheese comapny taking on the world – Alice Neville:

Since 1981, a pioneering Dutch immigrant has been developing a distinctive New Zealand style of cheese, and now the world is starting to sit up and take notice.

But for Albert Alferink, he’s just doing what he’s good at: working. Waikato: home of the Tron, the mighty river, Hobbiton, Waikato Draught and Jacinda Ardern.

The region is also home, of course, to acre upon acre of lush green grass that’s munched by cows who produce milk that is, or so we’re told, the backbone of the nation. . .

Wool lovers battle animal-rights crowd over sheep shearing – Sarah Nassauer:

Quintin McEwen spotted the tag on a Lucky Brand men’s polyester sweater and decided he had had enough.

“Shearless Fleece,” it read next to a picture of a sheep heavy with wool. “Not a single sheep was sheared in the making of this garment.”

The sixth-generation sheep farmer in Monkton, Ontario, logged on to his farm’s Facebook page to lash out at Lucky. Not only is shearing not inhumane, he wrote, it helps sheep fend off disease and move around more comfortably. “I am absolutely shocked by your blatant disregard for my industry,” Mr. McEwen wrote in the post, eliciting more than 1,000 comments. . .

AsureQuality and Bureau Veritas form exciting new venture in South East Asia:

New partnership between two market leaders will benefit both the growing food industry in South East Asia and Kiwi exporters.

New Zealand’s premier food assurance business AsureQuality and global leader Bureau Veritas are pleased to announce the formation of a new joint venture in South East Asia, BVAQ. Based in Singapore, this new partnership will bring their combined expertise and extensive capabilities to the fast-growing South East Asian food industry, as well as provide on the ground support for New Zealand food and primary exporters to this region

The partnership will combine and strengthen the existing footprints across South East Asia. AsureQuality have been operating a strong food testing business with a state-of-the-art laboratory in Singapore since 2010; while Bureau Veritas has newly established food testing laboratories in Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, plus a majority share in Permulab – a Malaysian leader in food and water testing. . . 

Changing the gender bias in agriculture – Busani Bafana:

Women entrepreneurs are playing an important role in transforming global food security for economic growth, but they have to work twice as hard as men to succeed in agribusiness.

“Agriculture and agribusiness are generally perceived as run by men,” entrepreneur and Director of  the Nairobi-based African Women in Agribusiness Network (AWAN) Beatrice Gakuba, told IPS. She noted that women entrepreneurs have to prove themselves, even though they are as capable and innovative as men.

“Women entrepreneurs face more challenges in getting their foot in the door in agricultural business than men when it comes to access to finance because of several factors, including socio-cultural beliefs,” adds Gakuba, who runs a flower export business. . . 


Rural round-up

January 5, 2019

Fish and Game do it again – Alan Emmerson:

Here was I listening to the radio to be shocked by the news that 82% of Kiwis saying they were concerned or very concerned about pollution of rivers and lakes.

Then we had Fish and Game chief Martin Taylor telling us that the problem was fair and square farmers fault.

Unsurprisingly I have issues with that.

For a start why don’t you get ten people in a room and ask them their concerns. I’ll lay you dollars to donuts that pollution of our rivers and lakes isn’t the major concern of eight of them.

Let’s take that a bit further. As the vast majority of us live in cities our exposure to rivers and lakes isn’t great. Certainly not eight out of ten. I’d be surprised if it was over two. . .

A-grade farming in a sensitive environment – Tony Benny:

A Canterbury dairy farmer is in tune with his environment. Tony Benny reports.

He says farming in a part of Canterbury regarded by many as too challenging environmentally Tony Dodunski has achieved an A rating for his farm environment plan audit and is achieving his production goals as well.

Tony and wife Clare farm 190ha next to Lake Ellesmere, which is rated the most at-risk in New Zealand with agriculture having a significant impact so farmers in the area are in the environmental spotlight. . .

Telfordstaffremaininlimbo

Uncertainty remains for Telford staff as they approach a critical point in their future with the beleaguered agricultural institute.

Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre, which provides courses at Telford, in Balclutha, and other on-farm campuses, was placed in interim liquidation on December 19.

At the time, liquidator Grant Thornton said it understood wages and salaries were up to date and the organisation would continue running “as per normal” over Christmas.

However, the Otago Daily Times has learnt Telford staff expect to receive their final wages on Wednesday, leaving them facing an uncertain future. . .

Climate research leads the world:

A government research programme has positioned New Zealand as a world leader in research into mitigating greenhouse gases from agriculture and adapting to climate change, a recent independent review has found.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change (SLMACC) research programme supports the generation of new climate change knowledge across NZ’s agriculture and forestry sectors. . .

Home buyers warned of sex and smell – Jono Edwards:

A Dunedin pig farmer is warning potential home buyers of the sex and stink that come with rural living.

Recently Pieter Bloem, who lives on the Otago Peninsula, noticed the property across from his on Highcliff Rd was for sale.  

On Boxing Day he decided to place a sign on the road reminding interested parties what they were in for. . .


Rural round-up

December 28, 2018

Loss of agricultural training campuses ‘will leave massive hole’ – Piers Fuller:

Carrying $23 million in debt, Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre was forecast to continue hemorrhaging money.

The Wairarapa based organisation which has campuses all over New Zealand including Telford Farm Training Institute in South Otago, went into interim liquidation on Wednesday.

National Party agricultural spokesman Nathan Guy said the loss of Taratahi and Telford would leave a massive hole and he questioned why the Government couldn’t have done more to save it. . . 

Conservation order is rife with uncertainties – Rhea Dasent:

The Ngaruroro Water Conservation Order brings uncertainties that point to an untenable proposal, writes Federated Farmers Senior Policy Advisor Rhea Dasent.

Federated Farmers opposes the Ngaruroro Water Conservation Order because of the uncertainty it brings.

The order is uncertain in three ways: it dumps limits on the community with an accompanying regime to be worked out by someone else later; inconsistent units; and inconsistent timeframes. . . 

People are the cherry on top – Neal Wallace:

It soon became obvious the interview with Harry and Joan Roberts was near the pointy end of the stone fruit season.

The long-time Central Otago fruit growers were amicable and generous with their time to accommodate an early December interview but the season was obviously ramping up, evident by the succession of staff requiring a piece of their time with inquiries.

They were diverse requests: questions about labelling details for the first pick of new season cherries, confirmation of exactly which block of fruit tree needed spraying and there was a constant stream of young people, many foreign backpackers, looking for work. . .

Environment Canterbury happy to make changes to farm-management system– Paul Gorman:

Environment Canterbury (ECan) says it already knows about the pitfalls of Overseer, following a critical report on the farm-management system by Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton.

It says it is prepared to make any changes that may be recommended as a result.

In his report earlier this month, Upton said the Overseer model needed to be more transparent if the public were to trust in it as a way of regulating pollution from farms. . . 

Breeder says goats need scale – Alan Williams:

Owen Booth has trophies and ribbons highlighting the quality of his Boer goat herd but says there’s one major drawback for the industry.

There’s just not enough of the breed in New Zealand to provide the scale to ensure good earnings for farmers producing them for their meat.

It’s hard to build markets and get dedicated processing space at meat plants, he says.

Of the 130,000 or so goats killed in NZ each year only 5% to 10% are Boer goats, a specialist meat breed introduced here from South Africa. . . 

US farmers fear lucrative Japanese exports will wither – Jacob M. Schlesinger:

After seeing exports to China tumble, U.S. farmers and ranchers are now bracing for more losses in their next-biggest Asian market: Japan.

On Dec. 30, Tokyo will begin cutting tariffs and easing quotas on products sold by some of American agriculture’s biggest competitors—including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Chile—as part of the new 11-member Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. . .


Rural round-up

February 25, 2016

Tough dairy times all over the globe – Jim Dickrell

French dairy farmers are once again taking manure and spreading it on roads, five dairy farms a week are going out of business in Great Britain, and the New Zealand government told its farmers to “stand on their own two feet.”

In France, according to theInternational Business News, farmers have blockaded roads, entered supermarkets and filled shopping carts with cheap food imports and even hurled their farm boots at government buildings.

In response, the French government said it will cut social security taxes farmers are required to pay by $556 million this year. . .

Ruataniwha irrigation scheme promoter confirms preferred private investor close to selection – Pattrick Smellie:

A preferred private sector investor in the Ruataniwha water storage scheme is close to selection, says its primary backer, the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Co.

HBRIC confirmed media reports earlier in the week that suggested a preferred private investor is about to start due diligence on the $275 million project, which would create a 93 million cubic metre reservoir to store water in the upper Makaroro river to improve river flows for agricultural use in the Tukituki River catchment.

Infratil-controlled Trustpower pulled the plug on its involvement in early 2014, followed by its other private backer, South Island iwi Ngai Tahu’s investment arm, before a board of inquiry process delayed resource consents for the dam while new environmental quality standards were set. . . 

SMART Watering campaign wraps up citing strong interest in water efficiency tools:

A pilot water efficiency campaign initiated by IrrigationNZ in four Canterbury districts this summer has concluded with evidence of strong interest in making water savings.

Home gardeners and lifestyle irrigators were the primary targets of the inaugural water efficiency campaign, which ran with the support of Timaru, Ashburton, Selwyn and Waimakariri District Councils, Environment Canterbury and inaugural industry partners Water Supply Products and RX Plastics.

The campaign launched in late November with the release of case studies illustrating how home gardeners and community projects can use irrigation tools and technologies to minimise water use and maximise productivity. . .

 

High prices, good growth cut cattle sales:

High beef prices and a surge in pasture growth has led to the cancellation of two cattle sales in Gisborne, a farmer and former stock agent says.

In January, two cattle sales were cancelled because there were not enough stock.

Barrie Gordon has worked in the cattle industry for more than 60 years and said only a few sales had been cancelled in the major cattle breeding region in all that time. . . 

PGG Wrightson posts 19% drop in first-half profit as farmers tighten spending – Tina Morrison:

PGG Wrightson posted a 19 percent drop in first-half profit as low dairy prices and fear of an El Nino drought contracted farmer spending at the rural services firm.

Profit fell to $16.1 million, or 2.1 cents a share, in the six months ended Dec. 31, from $19.7 million, or 2.6 cents, in the year earlier period, the Christchurch-based firm said in a statement. Revenue declined 4.8 percent to $623 million, while the cost of sales slid 6.9 percent to $462 million.

Farmers have tightened their wallets after milk processors like Fonterra Cooperative Group, the country’s largest, cut their farmgate milk payouts below the cost of production as a global oversupply lasts longer than anticipated. Fears of an El Nino drought heading into summer also kept farmers cautious with their spending. . . 

Dramatic improvement in forest industry safety record:

Following a spate of workplace deaths in 2013, New Zealand’s forestry industry has set a shining example in improved safety performance nationally over the past three years. Annual serious harm incident rates dropped in half over the past two years. The numbers dropped from 160 incidents in 2013, to 107 in 2014 and then to 79 in 2015.

Even more striking – the rate of serious harm in production forestry has dropped to less of one-third of the rate in 2008. This is based on annual forest harvest volumes lifting from less than 20 million cubic metres per annum to over 30 million in that period. . . .

Tree man scales new job at Taratahi –

Past competitive tree-climber and arborist Richard Wanhill has returned to his primary sector roots, he says, with his appointment as business development manager at Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre.

Mr Wanhill, who shifted to Wairarapa from the capital after originally hailing from Auckland, had worked as an arborist for about 15 years and also operated as a contract arboriculture and horticulture educator as a partner in a company named Thought Planters.

“I was teaching arboriculture mostly in New Zealand, Australia and Singapore and some in other places like Cambodia and Thailand. The competitive tree-climbing I’ve done has been only nationally in New Zealand, which is internationally recognised as one of the top tree-climbing countries in the world. . . 

 

Fonterra And Its Farmers Supporting Dairy Development:

Four Fonterra farmers will travel to Sri Lanka this year as part of a new farmer volunteer scheme to work with Sri Lankan dairy farmers.

Troy Doherty from Bay of Plenty, Tim Phillips from Waikato, Murray Douglas from Northland, and Marloes Levelink from West Otago, will spend a month at Fonterra’s new demonstration and training farm in Pannala, near Colombo.

While in Sri Lanka they will work with local farmers and Fonterra supplier relationship officers on areas including animal nutrition, prevention and treatment of mastitis and how to run a farm as a business. . . 


Rural round-up

July 1, 2015

Dr Rolleston new vice-president of the World Farmers Organisation:

Federated Farmers President, Dr William Rolleston has been elected Vice President of the World Farmers Organisation (WFO) while attending its General Assembly in Milan.

The WFO aims to bring together all the national producers and farm cooperative organisations with the objective of developing policies which favour and support farmers’ causes in developed and developing countries around the world.

“I am delighted and incredibly humbled to be elected into this role,” says Dr Rolleston. .  .

 

Sheep shipment should have been handled better – Jon Morgan:

 I recall once being told that the Prime Minister gets more calls and letters about animal welfare than any other issue.

No-one likes to see an animal suffer and it appears we’re more vigilant about this than we are about anything else, including child cruelty.

The authorities act quickly and severely when cases of animal cruelty occur. Hardly a week goes by when we’re not reading of a case before the courts. Unfortunately, each year several of these are farmers and involve multiple animals.

And so the outcry over the recent shipment of 50,000 sheep (actually 45,000) to Mexico quickly escalated to hysterical levels. . .

Gisborne bull breeders on a high after $100,000 sale  – Kate Taylor:

Angus breeders Charlie and Susie Dowding are buzzing at the sale of one of their bulls for $100,000 – a record price for an on-farm bull sale in New Zealand.

The Gisborne stud’s Rangatira 13-38 sold to the Bayly family’s Cricklewood Angus, Wairoa, which will use the rising two-year-old bull itself initially and make semen available for sale in the future.

“I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling yet,” Susie Dowding said.

“We had no idea at all he would be so sought after. We had moved him up the catalogue but obviously he should have been up further. I’m not sure how many were bidding to start with but it ended up with two studs who wanted him badly.” . .

Focus on support networks – Sally Rae:

A gathering of rural professionals is being held in Oamaru next week to highlight the support networks available to farmers.

It has been organised by the Rural Support Trust, Federated Farmers, Beef and Lamb New Zealand and DairyNZ.

The organisations all had concerns for farmers, particularly in North Otago but also other areas, over the next three to four months, as they faced the effects of drought and also the low dairy payout, Otago Rural Support Trust co ordinator Dave Mellish said. . .

ECan’s future direction – Conan Young:

After five years without a democratically elected regional council, warnings are being sounded that Canterbury’s stock of capable leaders is in danger of being hollowed out.

As Insight investigated the plan for ECan to make a partial return to democracy, it was told the region is getting used to having decisions made for it by government appointed commissioners.

Environment Canterbury’s councillors were sacked by the government amidst claims they were dysfunctional and had failed to introduce a water plan for the region, allowing it to make the most of its alpine water and reap the economic rewards of large scale irrigation.

Now there’s a proposal for a partial return to democracy with a mix of elected members and appointed commissioners.

According to the government, there’s still too much at stake to risk a return to fully elected councillors.

But the head of the Politics Department at Canterbury University, Bronwyn Hayward, takes issue with that position. . .

 

Cashflow crucial for Taranaki demonstration farms – Sue O’Dowd:

Demonstration farms near Stratford and Manaia are closely monitoring their cashflow, focusing on pasture management and deferring some expenditure as they plan for the season ahead.

The Stratford Demonstration Farm, operated by an incorporated society, and the Waimate West Demonstration Farm, owned by a trust, were both established in 1917 by local farmers who wanted a model dairy farm in their area to develop and promote better farming methods. Both farms are managed by the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre. 

Waimate West Demonstration Farm chairman John Fischer says cashflow will be crucial if dairy farmers are to manage their finances in the wake of two seasons of low payout forecasts. . .

Auditing just futile bureaucracy –  Lynda Murchison:

So much time and energy is spent managing land and water at present, with decisions around rules only the first step.

What those rules look like and how much they will cost farmers and the community to implement also needs close scrutiny. Take a couple of examples from Canterbury.

Overseer; like it or hate it, Canterbury farmers are required to record an estimate of their nitrogen losses using Overseer. Personally I don’t have an issue with that. . .


Rural round-up

September 6, 2014

All change this election -Andrew Hoggard :

This election hasn’t been the best advertisement for democracy.  I cannot recall when a Minister quit Cabinet during an election campaign but the actions of bloggers, hackers, emails and a political feeding frenzy, distract us from the real issues.

I’m pretty certain my Grandfather, who spent close on four years inside POW camps, would be spitting tacks if he were still around today and saw the impact a German playboy was having on our democracy.

After the election we could see political parties giving two fingers to the traditional baubles of office in favour of what’s called the cross-benches. What that means in practice is that the Opposition cannot afford to attack you while the government has to go cap and hand on every single policy.  It makes for electoral gridlock.  A tyranny of the minority.

I’d like to give this farce a wide berth but it impacts upon what farmers do. . .

World is a step closer to low-emission sheep – Jamie Morton:

The world is a step closer to a low-emission sheep, thanks to leading work by Kiwi and US researchers.

Methane belched from sheep and other ruminants, such as cows, accounts for around 28 per cent of global methane emissions from human-related activities.

The methane is produced in the rumen by microbes called methanogens and the work targeting these organisms is aimed at reducing methane emissions from ruminants.

New Zealand has the largest methane emission rate — six times the global average — and this primarily comes from enteric fermentation in ruminant livestock, with sheep the greatest single source. . . .

Move to save yarn business – Alan Williams:

Primary Wool Co-operative (PWC) group has confirmed its bid to save the last wool-spinning business in the southern hemisphere, Christchurch Yarns (NZ).

It has given itself less than a month to raise $3 million in equity to fund the purchase of the operating assets of Christchurch Yarns from the company’s receiver.

Directors and main shareholders Bay and Hamish de Lautour are putting in $150,000 between them to a new company, NZ Yarn, as a show of confidence to other potential investors. . . .

Taratahi Signs MOU with China:

On September 4 Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre signed a memorandum of understanding with the China Rural Technology Development Centre (CRTD).

CRTDC sits under the Ministry of Science and Technology. They are committed to promoting technological progress for all aspects of rural development in China by maintaining close ties with relevant rural science and technology management authorities, research institutes and universities in China as well as other international organisations.

The MOU focuses on improving the cooperation between New Zealand and China in terms of agricultural policy research, technology training and livestock breeding and encourages cooperation and communication of the governments, universities and corporations of both countries, to improve global agricultural sustainable development. . .

 

Butter prices soar in the US:

Butter futures reached an all-time high in Chicago as Americans’ rising appetite for the fatty dairy spread and rising exports erode US inventories.

Domestic consumption is projected to rise 0.8 per cent to 788,000 metric tons in 2014, according to the US Department of Agriculture. That would be the second-highest ever in data going back to 1965. Shipments in the first six months of the year were up 42 per cent from 2013.

Demand is rising as milk production trailed analyst expectations, while fat content, used to make butter, is also dropping, according to Eric Meyer, the president of Chicago-based HighGround Dairy. . .

Nominations Have Closed for the 2014 Fonterra Elections:

Nominations for the 2014 Fonterra Elections closed at 12 noon today.

The candidates for the Fonterra Board of Directors’ Election will be announced on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 following the completion of the Candidate Assessment Panel (CAP) process.

The Returning Officer, Warwick Lampp, confirmed there will be no election for the Directors’ Remuneration Committee, as Shareholders Murray Holdaway and Philip Wilson have been elected unopposed.

Nominations were also called for candidates for the Shareholders’ Council in 22 wards. An election is required in four wards, as follows: . . .

 

Give other options a ‘WIRL’ – Wools of New Zealand:

Wool research behind the farm gate was important but needed to be attached to work already being undertaken in the wool industry, says Wools of New Zealand in its wool levy position paper released today.

The grower owned wool marketing and sales company says while it is important for all growers to have their say, they need to be “armed with the facts relating to costs, benefits and possible alternatives before they vote.”

While WNZ agrees there is a need for additional training and tech transfer both inside the farm gate and beyond, it believes these functions can be provided by existing agencies such as Tectra and AgITO while there were also other options to creating yet another structure in an already cluttered industry. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 26, 2014

B+LNZ Lincoln Science Day: Farming 20/20 in 2020:

Thursday, 3 July 2014 Region: Northern South Island Location: 12.30-5pm: Stewart Building, Lincoln University By farmers. For farmers

Bookings are now open for this free farmer science event. Register today.

You will have heard about drones in agriculture, but have you seen one in action? Thought about selectively targeting stock to reduce drench resistance? Is clever winter feeding with fodder beet the latest game changer? How can your smartphone help you work smarter, not harder?

Come along and find out about the technologies that could take farming into the future. . . .

Why are dairy prices spiking?

It’s shaping up to be a historic year for America’s economically important dairy industry.

At the end of August, decades-old dairy price supports will change as the federal government ends its milk income loss contract (MILC) program. MILC guaranteed compensation for dairy producers if domestic milk prices fell below a certain level.

But dairy producers haven’t had to worry too much, at least for the present, about milk prices falling.

Despite a smaller overall beef and dairy herd, due in part to historic drought conditions across parts the U.S., the nation’s milk output is expected to reach a record 206.1 billion pounds this year, up nearly 5 billion pounds from 2013.

Dairy prices have also spiked. “We’ve never seen dairy prices and milk production this high at the same time,” Robin Schmahl, a commodities broker and owner of AgDairy in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin,told AgWeb.com 
back in April. “For dairy producers, the futures looks brighter than it has for a long time.” . . .

Rangatahi learning about land:

It makes sense to upskill rangatahi who will eventually manage the farms on Maori land as more whenua is returned to iwi, the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre says.

The Masterton-based centre has joined with Papawai Marae, near Greytown, to provide agricultural training for 15 Kuranui College students on the Ringa Raupa Ringa Ahuwhenua pilot programme.

Taratahi Maori Agribusiness co-ordinator Ben Matthews said it was important to guide young Maori on a rural career path to set them up for the future. . . .

Cow comfort key to stand-off pads:

Farmers considering investing in stand-off pads must make cow comfort their number one priority, according to new DairyNZ research.

Information from the three-year study into stand-off pads, a farm facility which helps farmers prevent pasture damage in wet weather, has been released in a new resource – Stand-off pads – your essential guide to planning, design and management.

DairyNZ farm systems specialist Chris Glassey says the research followed eight North Island farms with stand-off pads during the winter months of May until August. The Northland and Waikato farms were monitored for hours of pad use, pad stocking density, surface material deterioration and cow comfort. . . .

Progress on forestry safety action:

In the first five months of this year, the number of serious injuries reported in forestry has dropped by nearly half compared with last year, Labour Minister Simon Bridges says.

“This is positive news and indicates the work the whole industry – the regulator, the forestry companies, the contractors and the workers – has been doing is paying off, but this is not a time to celebrate,” Mr Bridges says.

“I remain concerned that WorkSafe New Zealand is continuing to find very serious levels of non-compliance in the industry.”

WorkSafe New Zealand figures show 46 serious injuries have been reported this year up to the end of May compared with 82 in the same period last year.  This year’s figures are substantially below the six year rolling average for the same period of 77.  . .

 

Media Release from the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC):

New Zealanders are being invited to have their say on the newly drafted animal welfare standards for the temporary housing of companion animals.

The proposed Code of Welfare: Temporary Housing of Companion Animals describes the minimum standards and best practice guidelines that owners and people in charge of animals must achieve to meet their obligations under the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

“It is essential that owners and people in charge of companion animals in temporary housing facilities are aware of their welfare needs,” says Chair of NAWAC Dr John Hellström. . . .

Bee groups moving towards merger:

The two groups representing beekeepers look set to merge to act as one voice for the industry.

Federated Farmers launched its bee industry group in 2002 after a split with the National Beekeepers’ Association.

For the first time, the organisations are holding a joint conference in Whanganui.

Association president Ricki Leahy said there has been a positive reaction from the industry for them to unite soon. . . .

 


Rural round-up

August 14, 2013

Ravensdown returns ‘unacceptable’ result – Tim Cronshaw:

Fertiliser co-operative Ravensdown is offloading loss-making Australian businesses to ensure there is no repeat of a pre-tax profit of $6 million made in the 2012-13 year ending May.

The ”unacceptable” result is down 88 per cent from $52m the previous year and the co-operative will be unable to pay farmer shareholders a rebate for the first time in 35 years.

Poor performing Australian investments and slower fertiliser sales during the drought contributed to the small profit alongside high urea prices and a consistently high dollar going against the co-operative’s policy of hedging long term. . .

Lab meat ‘no threat yet’ to NZ – Al Williams:

Laboratory-grown meat is the “stuff of science fiction” and a long way off from posing any threat, those involved in meat production in New Zealand say.

Industry reaction follows a taste test last week of hamburger grown in a laboratory.

Scientists at Maastricht University in the Netherlands developed the burger over five years, with hopes that lab-grown meat could eventually help feed the world and fight climate change.

The project had high-profile funding from Sergey Brin, a co-founder of Google, who gave €250,000 (NZ$450,000) towards the project, saying he was motivated by a concern for animal welfare. . .

Farming til the cows come home – Peter Watson:

You won’t hear Ted and Clare Ford complaining about getting up early in the morning to milk the cows and feed the calves.

They have been doing it for more than 40 years, still enjoy it and have no plans to stop.

“What else would I do,” says Mr Ford, a fit-looking 66-year-old who, with his wife, has been at the forefront of promoting dairying in the Nelson region.

“You’ve got to have a reason for getting up in the morning and I firmly believe retirement has killed more farmers than farming.” . .

Sellers warned to identify irradiated tomatoes:

New Zealand businesses selling Australian irradiated tomatoes are being reminded they are obliged to label them as such.

The tomatoes are expected to be on sale in the country shortly, after Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye changed the import rules to allow in irradiated tomatoes from Australia earlier this year.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has issued an advisory telling food businesses they must let consumers know the food they are purchasing is irradiated.

The ministry says the mandatory labelling statement must be on the food or close to the food at all points of sale. . .

Students help with animal progeny programme:

A new generation of budding famers is learning first-hand about genetic selection and animal performance.

Students at the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre at Koromiko farm in Wairarapa are helping with the sheep industry’s central progeny trial programme.

The programme aims to develop sheep selection tools to help farmers working on a variety of land types.

Koromiko farm manager Shayne Rankin said the students at the training centre are helping to monitor the performance of rams on hard hill country. . .

More on the trial at Koromiko here.

How bike bashing Rambro went feral then viral – Michael Daly:

A confrontation between a Nelson trail-bike rider and a belligerent ram is raising laughs around the world.

Nelson man Marty Todd posted video of the face-off, which the ram appears to win, on YouTube.

After being picked up on CNN and by Britain’s Mail Online, the YouTube posting has been viewed about 350,000 times.

It shows Mr Todd stopping when confronted by the animal, known to locals as ‘Rambro’, on a track through his rural property.

After a standoff lasting a few seconds the ram charges the bike. Mr Todd gets off and heads several metres up a side track, then returns to the bike, all the while being watched by the glowering ram. . .


Rural round-up

May 9, 2013

Conservation farming at work in NZ:

“Seek the power of narrative” was the parting plea of world-renowned American Landscape Architect, Thomas Woltz, when he recently spoke at the 50th International Federation of Landscape Architects World Congress in Auckland.

Woltz – principle of the esteemed Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, with offices in Manhattan, Virginia and California, and clients spanning nine nations – is no stranger to New Zealand farming, having worked on and off in the rural realm here for over a decade.

Most famously, it is Woltz’s ongoing, 11-year work at the 607ha Young Nick’s Head Station on coastal Hawkes Bay that is his firm’s Kiwi showcase and, as his inspirational talk demonstrated, it’s not hard to see why. . .

What is drought?:

What is a drought? The traditional sense is defined by a “long period of abnormally low rainfall,” but the amount of rainfall, or even irrigation, is arguably less than half the bigger picture; the remainder is capturing and retaining moisture in the soil.

A field not far from Cambridge is a good place to start. In the heart of one of the worst droughts in living memory, there grows plentiful pasture in a paddock surrounded by brown, crisp and short feed.

Father and daughter team, John and Janie Taylor, run this family sheep and beef farm in the heart of the Waikato. Three years ago, they found themselves disillusioned with the mainstream fertiliser approach and began to learn more about soil nutrition.

“We thought that’s got to be the approach we’ve got to take, in terms of feeding the plants to feed the animals, and get a better result around our animal fertility, lambing percentages and all the rest,” says Janie. . .

Life is sweet for organic farmer:

On the edge of Hororata township at the inland edge of the Canterbury Plains Kelvin Hicks grows some of the sweetest carrots around.

They are big, organically grown and in nice straight rows.

At 120ha, plus another 80ha leased, Willowmere, the Hicks’ certified organic, mixed livestock-cropping farm is one of the larger units of its type in the country.

Recently Kelvin collected the Harvest Award in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards for Canterbury where the judges said:

“You have proven the business’s sustainability: yours is an enduring business, your products are highly specialised, you are successfully working through succession arrangements and the business is well positioned to take future opportunities as they presents.” . . .

Students get dirt under their fingers – Jill Galloway:

Riding a quad bike, fencing, operating a chainsaw and dealing with animal health are just some of the things students of a UCOL and Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre course learn.

It is all about preparing students for life on a farm and they have to have skills in a number of rural fields.

Cam Nossiter works on a dairy farm in Marton fulltime, and uses his two days off a week for the practical learning associated with the general farm skills programme.

“It’s good for my CV. I’ve learnt a few new skills, and honed a few.”

Some people want the certificate, to show they completed the course.  . . .

DairyNZ welcomes strategy for animal welfare:

Industry body DairyNZ is welcoming the New Zealand Animal Welfare Strategy released by the Minister of Primary Industries, Nathan Guy.

DairyNZ’s Strategy and Investment Leader for Sustainability Dr Rick Pridmore, says New Zealand’s dairy farmers take animal welfare matters seriously and it is useful to have an overarching strategic framework for guiding how the country approaches the care of animals.

“Animal welfare is one of the dairy industry’s 10 objectives in the newly refreshed Strategy for Sustainable Dairy Farming. We’re committed to farming to high standards of animal health, welfare and well-being. As the Minister points out, New Zealand has a world-leading reputation for animal welfare and we need to recognise and protect that as it is a vital part of continuing our success as an export industry,” he says. . .

McDonald’s removes the lamb from Lambton:

While Federated Farmers is saddened it understands why McDonald’s has removed lamb as a permanent item from its local menu. Federated Farmers still has big hopes this breakthrough will eventually appear in other markets where lamb is widely consumed.

“McDonald’s may have removed the lamb from Lambton, but to us, the decision is more a speed hump,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre spokesperson.

“China has become our largest lamb market by volume and if we look to India, where free trade negotiations are underway, it has a 300-million strong middle class fast developing a taste for meat. .

“It looks promising if we put these together with the substantial intellectual property McDonald’s New Zealand has for how lamb works within the McDonald’s system. In ANZCO’s Taranaki plant it has the means of production while our farms provide the raw ingredients and an impressive back story. . .


Rural round-up

March 4, 2012

Only a Lotto ticket away from a PhD – Jon Morgan:

One day while travelling, Trevor Cook and a friend were discussing what they would do if they won Lotto.

His friend said: “I’d leave work and travel the world playing golf on the best courses I could find. What would you do?” Mr Cook, a Feilding veterinarian and farming consultant, thought for a bit and replied: “I’d cut down on work and do a PhD.”

He lets out a gruff laugh. “You should have seen the look on his face. `You’re not joking, are you,’ he said. I wasn’t. If I had the financial freedom, that’s exactly what I would do.” . . .

Classrooms to cowsheds:

The students of four Taranaki schools are combining classroom study with on-the-job learning in a Primary Industry Trades Academy (PITA).

The year 11-13 students of Hawera and Opunake high schools and New Plymouth’s Spotswood and Francis Douglas Memorial colleges are undertaking the National Certificate in Agriculture Level 2, in tandem with NCEA study. They form two clusters and undertake study on Thursdays or Fridays.

Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre established the academy in Taranaki this year after operating it in other areas of the lower North Island last year. It wants to expand it to other Taranaki schools. . .

Kylee’s in search of perfection – Sue O’Dowd:

Young ayrshire cattle judge Kylee Perrett brings a pedigree of her own to her role.

The 22-year-old is the daughter of prominent Taranaki ayrshire breeders Ivan and Robyn Fredrickson, of Ngaere, in central Taranaki.

And she’s well on the way to establishing herself as a stock judge on the show circuit.

She’s a New Zealand Ayrshire Association junior judge and wants to become a senior judge as soon as she can. . .

Farmers praised on water quality – Jill Galloway:

Farmers should be congratulated for doing their bit to improve the quality of the Manawatu River, says water quality scientist Shirley Hayward.

She talked to about 20 dairy farmers at a field day last week to help dairy farmers improve their productivity while at the same time reducing their environmental footprint.

Ms Hayward said Niwa figures showed river quality had improved during the past 10 years. She said there were fewer pollutants such as nitrogen and phosphrous. . .

Farmers face new take on water – Ali Tocker:

Waikato Regional Council is currently planning how it will work with farmers required to apply for water take consents under the council’s new water allocation policy.

The policy, variation 6 to the council’s regional plan, was endorsed by the Environment Court late last year. The period for appeals has now passed, clearing the way for the council to begin implementing the policy.

The council’s resource use division manager Brent Sinclair said his team is now doing detailed planning to ensure farmers in different areas are aware of their responsibilities under variation 6. The council will also work with the agricultural sector to develop the most efficient way for farmers to meet those responsibilities. . .

NZ to see more of luxury meat – Tim Cronshaw:

Merino-branded meat will be rolled out to more Kiwi diners and luxury global markets in the next year.

A mix of high-priced racks and legs with unconventional cuts of lamb such as short ribs are under the new luxury brand of Silere Alpine Origin Merino.

The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) is developing the merino brand in a joint venture with the meat company Silver Fern Farms (SFF) and plans to build on merino wool’s clever marketing with more innovative twists. . .


%d bloggers like this: