Rural round-up

12/11/2020

Agriculture will change but pastoral agriculture will survive and prosper – Keith Woodford:

Agriculture will change but pastoral agriculture will survive and prosper.  It is all about international competitive advantage, new technologies and managing the environment. It can be done but it won’t be easy.

One of the regular questions I am asked about is the future of pastoral agriculture. It reflects a perspective that, given the issues of water pollution, greenhouse gases and changing consumer attitudes, perhaps New Zealand’s pastoral agriculture belongs to the past rather than the future.

A good starting point for a response is to reflect as to why New Zealand developed as a pastoral-based economy. Nature blessed New Zealand with a temperate maritime climate combined with a hilly and mountainous topography that is well suited to pastoral agriculture, but much less suited to crop activities.

Compared to much of the world, New Zealand’s natural competitive edge still lies in pastoral sheep, beef and dairy.   In contrast, the economics of broad-acre cropping and vegetable production are challenging in an environment where flat land is limited and where rain can occur, or not occur, at any time. . .

Low methane sheep a reality :

New Zealand farmers are the first in the world with the ability to breed low methane-emitting sheep.

A breeding value for methane emissions was launched in November 2019. It was the outcome of a 10-year breeding programme funded by the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGGRC) and the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre.

AgResearch scientist Dr Suzanne Rowe has been leading the research programme and says for the past ten years, they have been running two closed flocks side-by-side, a low methane emitting flock and a high methane emitting flock. . . 

 

Science and agriculture well met – Yvonne O’Hara:

Combining genetics, parasitology and agriculture is a dream job for Dr Kathryn McRae.

She has worked for AgResearch at Invermay for the past six years and during that time has had several major genetic studies to her credit.

“I really enjoy the mix with the lab work with more practical hands-on work.”

She researched levels of pneumonia in sheep and oversaw the Invermay-based Beef + Lamb New Zealand Central Progeny Test (CPT). . . 

Plan to introduce insects to kill wasps :

The Tasman District Council wants to release two new wasp-killing insects to New Zealand.

It has applied on behalf of a wasp control action group to the Environmental Protection Authority, to release the wasp-nest beetle and a hoverfly.

The introduced insects would combat the invasive wasps that cost the country about $130 million a year in damage and control measures.

Wasps attack honeybees, butterflies, flies and spiders and can be harmful to people – sometimes seriously. . . 

Puro given licence to grow 10 hectares of medicinal cannabis:

Medical cannabis grower Puro has been granted a licence to plant 10 hectares of the crop.

Managing director of the Marlborough firm, Tim Aldridge, said it would plant more than 80,000 seeds and seedlings at Kēkerengū on the Kaikōura Coast.

Aldridge said the licence was in time to plant in spring. . .

Let’s have a more balanced debate on meat tax – Richard Young:

When it comes to talking about meat, and especially when discussing a tax on red meat, we must be careful to differentiate between livestock that are part of the problem and those that are part of the solution. While we agree that the polluter pays principle should be applied to food, and the sugar tax is a good example of this, there is a real problem with the blanket use of the term, ‘red meat’, which is freely used but is flawed on two counts. Firstly, it is generally used to refer to all ruminant meat, meat from pigs and all processed red meats.

This is irrational and misleading because these meats can be produced in very different ways which have very different impacts on nutrient composition and the environment. Secondly, in failing to differentiate between methods of production, the blanket use of the term ‘red meat’ is intellectually sloppy, creates confusion amongst the public and does more harm than good when used to advocate meat taxes. . . 

 


Rural round-up

19/02/2019

Tasman facing serious drought – Tracey Neal:

First there were floods, then fire and now drought.

The Waimea Plains, cradled between two mountain ranges, are usually immune to such extremes in the weather.

But a Tasman District Council water scientist says the wider area is facing its worst drought since 2001. . .

Explainer: Why NZ can’t afford to mess with China – Aimee Shaw:

China and New Zealand have enjoyed decades of mutual benefits.

The global powerhouse and New Zealand signed a Free Trade Agreement in 2008 and since then have phased in provisions to ease trade between the two countries.

China is now New Zealand’s largest trading partner, followed by Australia. Suffice to say it’s a relationship New Zealand can’t afford to lose.

Fallout from the Government taking the United States stance on the Huawei debate and now reports of people not wanting to come to New Zealand as a result are threatening the country’s long-standing friendly relationship. . . 

Year of the Pig means feast of exports for Fonterra :

Celebrations have been underway around the world to celebrate the festive Chinese New Year season — welcoming the Year of the Pig.

In China itself those celebrations are likely to have included family feasts including dairy produced in Waipa’s Fonterra plants.

Fonterra’s Te Awamutu site exported around $175 million in products to China for consumption in 2017/18. That’s about $12,500 per person in Te Awamutu. . . 

Optimistic report on ‘M bovis’ response – Sally Rae:

Improvements are already being made in many areas highlighted in the Mycoplasma bovis Technical Advisory Group’s report, response head Geoff Gwyn says.

Work is under way to develop a new surveillance approach for the beef industry and the focus is increasing on improving communication to affected farmers, the public and staff.

The report, released this month and following the group’s meeting in late November, provided independent validation the eradication programme was ”on track”, he said.

Mr Gwyn said the findings and recommendations were not surprising. Some of the recommendations were relatively simple to implement or were already in train, while others would need careful consideration before a decision was made. . . 

Open Country challenges validity of Fonterra 2018 milk price – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Open Country Dairy is seeking a judicial review of the way Fonterra Cooperative Group set its milk price in the 2018 season, despite the Commerce Commission giving the price-setting process a pass mark.

The commission noted the judicial review on its website, saying Open Country Dairy brought proceedings against certain conclusions in its 2018 report.

In that report, the regulator was satisfied that Fonterra’s calculation was largely in line with the efficiency and contestability elements required by law governing the dairy sector. . . 

Unusual beefalo meat in demand – Ken Muir:

A chance meeting with an engineer building a cowshed on a neighbouring farm next door to Nadia and Blair Wisely introduced them to bison and from there they’ve taken to producing beefalo – a bison beef cross – on their Isla Bank farm.

”We met Dennis Greenland by chance and he had purchased animals from a Marlborough breeder Bob Blake”, Mr Wisely said.

”He told us about the animals and that piqued our interest.”

The Wiselys purchased a bison bull, crossed it with a range of cows and Netherton Farm Beefalo was born. . . 

Wild horses go under the hammer in Hanmer

Twenty horses, all aged two or three years old, were mustered from the isolated Ada Valley and sold by auction at cattle yards in the St James Conservation Area, where there was once an 80,000-hectare cattle station.

The two-day biennial muster is a family tradition.

Hugh Dampier-Crossley, a sheep and beef farmer near Cheviot, has been mustering the horses since he was ten.

“The Stevensons owned the property. Jim Stevenson was my grandfather, they bought the place in 1927. He taught me how to break in horses and shoe horses so it’s become a bit of a passion,” he said. . . 

Plan to plant genetically engineered trees throughout US to save dying forests – John Gabattis:

Inserting genes to protect against foreign diseases and pests could bring species back from brink of extinction

Plans are under way to plant swathes of genetically engineered trees across the ailing forests of North America in a bid to save them from the ravages of disease and pests. 

Species such as the ash tree and whitebark pine have faced catastrophic declines of up to half their populations after creatures introduced from overseas tore through their defences. . .

 


Rural round-up

03/12/2018

Owners of East Coast forests charged over debris damage:

The owners of six East Coast forests are to be prosecuted over damage to farms from flood-borne logging debris in June.

Farmers are still feeling the effects of the Queen’s Birthday man-made floods, when forestry debris washed down and blocked rivers, damaging farms during two bouts of heavy rain in the region.

They put the cost of the damage in the millions of dollars. . . 

Another record high lambing percentage for New Zealand sheep farmers:

Sheep and beef farmers achieved another record high lambing percentage this spring, according to Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Lamb Crop 2018 report

B+LNZ’s Economic Service estimates the number of lambs tailed in spring 2018 was 23.5 million head, down 0.7 per cent (163,000 head) on the previous spring, with the small decline being due to the higher lambing percentage not offsetting the 2.1 per cent decline in breeding ewes.

The average ewe lambing percentage for 2018 was 129.0 per cent, up 1.7 percentage points on last year and up nearly 8 percentage points on the average for the previous 10 years (2008-09 to 2017-18) of 121.4 per cent. . . 

Green light for controversial Waimea dam:

Tasman District Council has approved the $105 million Waimea dam project after a marathon meeting.

Tasman councillors have this afternoon voted nine votes in favour to five against after an almost seven-hour meeting to determine the fate of the Waimea Community Dam.

The decision came after a tense and at times vocal hour-long public forum in the council chamber, that was being monitored by tight security.

Opponents resent supporting a project they say will benefit a few.

However, supporters say the regional economy will be placed at great risk without a secure water supply. . . 

Members may not be prepared for disaster – Yvonne O’Hara:

When the earth moves, are farmers going to be prepared? The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management sent an emergency mobile alert last Sunday as part of its preparedness plans.

While phones rang all over the country that evening, did it encourage farmers to think about their readiness for earthquakes and other adverse events? SRL reporter Yvonne O’Hara investigates.

Federated Farmers provincial presidents, Otago’s Simon Davies and Southland’s Geoffrey Young, are concerned that many of the region’s farmers are not prepared for significant adverse events, such as earthquakes, snow, and flooding.

Mr Young, a sheep and beef farmer of Cattle Flat, said an earthquake in the region could be catastrophic. . . 

Entries close for 2019 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards:

The Canterbury-North Otago region has received the highest number of entries in the 2019 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

Fifty-nine entries have been received in the Canterbury-North Otago Dairy Industry Awards including 17 in the Share Farmer of the Year, 30 in the Dairy Manager of the Year and 12 in the Dairy Trainee of the Year competition.

NZDIA General Manager Chris Keeping said a total of 393 entries were received for the Awards, an increase of 29 from last year. . . 

We need a bigger rain gague in New Zealand – Patrick Horgan:

November is the last month of spring in New Zealand but there’s no sign of summer around the corner.

After four months placement on a dairy farm in Canterbury, I drove five hours south to see another side of New Zealand dairy farming. I arrived in West Otago in a pair of shorts on 14 October. On 15 October, I ditched the shorts for waterproofs and a rain jacket.

In the past week of bad weather, diversification into water buffalo and water cress farming has been discussed during milking on my new farm while the rain pounded off the tin sheets above our heads. . .

Welsh meat lobby to fight vegan ‘fake food news’ on social media

Hybu Cig Cymru fears too many ‘sensationalist and misleading’ claims are being put forward by critics of meat-based diets.

Wales’s red meat sector is pledging to fight the scourge of “fake food news” on social media that denigrates the likes of Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef.

Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC), the meat levy body for Wales, said it will deliver a “fact-based fightback” that champions meat’s nutritional values and environmental credentials.

This will begin today with the launch by HCC of a new healthy eating lamb campaign fronted by Wales rugby legend Shane Williams. . .


Rural round-up

03/11/2018

Fonterra fails test –  Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra achieved a positive result in only one of its nine key performance indicators in the 2018 financial year, its Shareholders’ Council says.

That one positive was the milk price of $6.69/kg MS up 9% from the season before.

Negative achievements against targets were recorded for the total amount available for payout, earnings per share, consumer and food service volume, the gearing ratio, working capital days, return on capital, milk volume collected and employee injuries. . .

Law change could target farmers with poor environmental record – Maja Burry:

Farmers and other stakeholders are being asked to have their say on legislation governing the nearly $17 billion diary industry. 

In May, the government began a review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) 2001, which regulates Fonterra as the dominant player in the market to protect farmers, consumers and the wider economy.

The review will look at how the price of raw milk is set for farmers, how competitive the milk market is – as well as incentives for farmers to move into more sustainable production methods. . .

Fonterra acknowledges release of DIRA options paper:

Fonterra acknowledges the release today of the Government’s options paper on the review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act.

The Act is a complex piece of legislation and it’s important to New Zealand that the review is thorough.

We recognise the significant work that the Ministry for Primary Industries and Minister O’Connor have put into the document and we appreciate their high degree of engagement with industry so far. . . 

Not meeting honey rules cost Auckland businessman $26,000:

An Auckland businessman has been fined more than $26,000 for offences related to making false therapeutic claims about honey and failing to ensure he was a registered exporter.

Jonathan Paul Towers, 43, has been sentenced in the Auckland District Court and fined $26,300 after earlier pleading guilty to one charge under the Food Act and one charge under the Animal Products Act. . .

WIL locks in $11.5 M toward revised Dam cost:

To secure a 100-year water supply for Tasman and Nelson through the Waimea Community Dam, a group of local businesses has committed to invest $11 million in Waimea Irrigators Limited. Waimea Irrigators Limited (WIL) is issuing a Replacement Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to shareholders today detailing its additional investment of $11.5 million in the $102 million Dam project.

In August it was announced that the cost of the project increased by $26 million. Subsequently, Tasman District Council (TDC) approved a revised funding proposal that included a greater WIL contribution. Through an investor vehicle and additional in loan funding from Crown Irrigation Investments Limited (CIIL), WIL can meet its commitment to the project. . . 

Bird Mask’ now available to buy

Off the back of some seriously positive chirping, Air New Zealand and material innovation brand Allbirds have made their collaboratively designed eye mask, dubbed the ‘Bird Mask’, available to purchase online and at selected Nordstrom stores in the United States. . .

From today, fans of the Bird Mask can purchase their very own mask through the Allbirds online store, the Air New Zealand Airpoints™ Storeand Air New Zealand merchandise store, and at Nordstrom stores in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. . .


Rural round-up

10/09/2018

Tasman District Council U-turn on Waimea dam draws mixed reaction –  Cherie Sivignon:

The Tasman District Council decision on Thursday to revoke its earlier in-principle agreement to effectively end the Waimea dam project has received a mixed reaction.

Nelson MP Dr Nick Smith welcomed the 9-5 vote to proceed with the $102 million project after a new funding model was presented to councillors, calling it the right decision for the region’s future.

“The big gains from this project are environmental and economic,” Smith said. “It will enable the minimum flows in summer in the Waimea River to be lifted five-fold and fully meet the national standards for water quality. It will also enable another 1200ha of horticulture, creating more wealth and jobs.” . .

Tough job to get staff – Neal Wallace:

Labour hungry farmers and primary industry employers face stiff competition for school leavers with regional unemployment below 5%, secondary school teachers are warning.

Mid Canterbury’s unemployment rate is 2%, creating a competitive job market with school leavers having multiple offers and attractive wages and employment conditions, Ashburton College principal Ross Preece said.

So the days of farmers offering youth rates or minimum wages and expecting them to work 50-hour weeks are gone. . .

Better understanding of nutrient movement – Pam Tipa:

We need a better understanding of nutrient transport across catchments, says Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE), Simon Upton.

And he says we also need better understanding of what nutrient models can and can’t do to assist in building a picture and better communication of what is happening to water quality. Upton highlighted several gaps and faults in this information to a recent Environmental Defence Society conference.

The PCE is analysing Overseer as a tool for measuring water pollution from agricultural sources. Upton told the conference he is not yet in a position to preview findings on his Overseer report.

But the need for better understanding of nutrient transport, models and communication were among aspects which so far stand out to him in his findings. . .

Inquiry after lambs killed –  Tim Miller:

Mosgiel man Roy Nimmo says the killing of three of his two-week-old lambs is abhorrent and whoever is responsible should take a long hard look at themselves.

The three lambs were being kept in a paddock next to his home in Cemetery Rd, beside the East Taieri Church, with about 15 other lambs and ewes.

A ewe was also shot in the head but at this stage was still alive, Mr Nimmo said. . .

Agritech deal opens door to US markets – Esther Taunton:

New Zealand’s agritech innovators will have better access to the massive United States market through two new partnerships.

Agritech New Zealand, which represents some of the country’s top tech companies, has signed an agreement with California-based Western Growers, a trade organisation whose members provide more than half the nation’s fresh fruit and vegetables.

Signed last week, the deal will open doors for Kiwi agritech companies to enter the US market via the Western Growers Centre for Innovation and Technology in California and for US-based agritech startups to access the New Zealand market, Agritech NZ executive director Peter Wren-Hilton said. . .

Shortfall of tractor drivers a concern – Yvonne O’Hara:

Although a new apprenticeship scheme will address future labour needs in the horticultural industry nationally, there is also a shortage of skilled tractor drivers and irrigation technicians to work on Central Otago vineyards that needs to be addressed.

The three-year programme provides on the job training and support for 100 new horticulture and viticulture apprentices, and was launched last month.

It is supported by New Zealand Winegrowers, Primary ITO, the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) . .

Don’t take our dairy industry fro granted :

The current drought is showing the detrimental impact that the $1/litre milk and the discounting of dairy products has had on the profitability of dairy farmers across NSW.

Retailers’ behavior to discount dairy products had deteriorated farmers’ economic resilience and the prolonged drought is highlighting the reduced profits of farmers. 

Preparing for drought requires that during good years farmers from across all commodities have extra cash that they reinvest back into their farm to prepare for the lean times. . .


Dam damned, what will plan b cost?

30/08/2018

The Tasman District Council has voted against funding the Waimea Dam:

The Tasman District Council has decided increased costs for the Waimea Community Dam are unaffordable for ratepayers, meaning the project in its current form will not proceed.

The Council today decided in principle not to fund 51% of a $23 million capital funding shortfall for the dam.

Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne said the decision effectively meant the project would not proceed, as public consultation cannot occur before the deadline of 15 December when the Government will withdraw its funding for the dam of over $55 million.

“Unfortunately the additional costs are too high and the Council has decided it must look at other options for resolving our serious summer water shortages.” . .

Horticulture NZ CE Mike Chapman calls it a damning decision:

. . .This dam was going to supply water for urban households, support the area’s thriving horticulture, and ensure minimum river flows during dry periods, sustaining the aquatic life in the river. During floods, the dam would have helped prevent damage by reducing flood waters. Northington Partners, an independent investment bank and business advisory firm, forecast that not building the Waimea Dam could result in nearly $1 billion being lost from the Tasman and Nelson economy over the next 25 years.  Even the Council, which voted against it, has said that urban and rural water users will be facing significant water use cuts from this summer, following the   decision. One of the areas most affected by water cuts is plants. These are the trees, vines and the crops that provide employment and feed this region. If the trees and vines die because of a lack of water, it is unlikely that they will be re-planted and this means taking away economic activities from the district. This will result in job losses because without water there will not be highly productive fruit and vegetable growing.

So why did some of the councillors vote against this decision?  All members of the community, businesses and the environment in this area would be beneficiaries from the dam. I am struggling to understand why you would vote down such a beneficial scheme, as the dam was the most cost effective way to provide a secure water supply.

Did the Councillors consider the impact of climate change? We are looking at a future where there will be more adverse weather events, rainfall will become more variable, and drought and floods will be more frequent. Did they forget that last year, prior to Christmas, this area went onto water restrictions? Water storage is a vital mitigation to climate change so that during dry periods people, animals and plants have water to drink. Jobs and the livelihood and survival of their region depend on water. Without water there is not life.

The Tasman District is a prime horticulture producer of apples, kiwifruit, berries, broccoli, cabbages, lettuce and cauliflowers. Most of the fruit is exported, earning valuable overseas funds for New Zealand. The vegetables feed the region and other parts of New Zealand. How are people going to be able to eat healthy, locally-grown fresh fruit and vegetables, if there are none because there is no water?  Do not think that imported fruit and vegetables will fill the demand. As the world’s population grows and climate change turns what were good growing areas into desserts, every country will be struggling to feed their own population, let alone others.

So this is a very short sighted decision that will damn the Tasman District for many years to come and see it most likely go into economic decline.  It is also a lesson for the rest of New Zealand: water storage is vital to mitigate the effects of climate change and make sure we can feed our people. Perhaps the Councillors would like to re-think this decision and think about providing for the District’s future generations.

The dam would have had considerable benefits and not just in providing enough reliable water for irrigators and household supplies.

It would also have provided recreational opportunities and environmental protection.

Water storage is the most environmentally friendly option for both irrigation and river health.

Opponents talked up the dam’s cost but ignored the costs of not building it.

The most obvious are those that come from lost production for farmers, horticulturalists and orchardists who won’t have reliable irrigation; the loss of jobs on farms, orchards and in businesses which service and supply them and lost food for both domestic and export markets.

There’s also the loss of reliable water for existing and future households and businesses.

Then there’s the environmental costs from losing the ability to maintain river flows in dry weather to protect flora and fauna and ensure a healthy ecosystem; and to hold water back during floods.

The problem facing the district isn’t just a shortage of rural water, there’s an urban water shortage too.

Doing nothing isn’t an option.

The council has damned the dam and must now come up with a plan b. What will that cost?

The last tweet from the now defunct Twitter account @WaimeaDam spelled it out:

 

 

 


Rural round-up

18/05/2017

UK farming looks doomed – Allan Barber:

Two contrasting publications have each given a pretty damning picture of the state of farming and food production in pre-Brexit UK; and despite the conclusions of the Ferguson Cardo report into the future of British agriculture, it is hard to see how this situation will change for the better without a huge amount of pain on the way. But equally it is almost impossible to imagine a continuation of the status quo within the EU, where in 2015 70% of UK farm income came from direct and environmental subsidies.

A much shorter piece in the well-known satirical paper Private Eye captures the problems faced by UK dairy farmers very cogently, although these have been well publicised already. The number of dairy herds has fallen like a stone since 1993 – the year the Milk Marketing Board was abolished – when there were 33,000 herds, compared with fewer than 10,000 today. The cost of milk production this year is forecast to rise to 32.5 pence per litre, while the price farmers receive is anchored at 25p or even worse predicted to fall even lower. Not surprisingly more closures are expected. . . 

No idle time for top dairy woman – Sally Rae:

Jessie Chan-Dorman’s determination was evident from an early age.

At 16, she left home and funded herself through secondary school and university.

Ms Chan-Dorman (39) was named 2017 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year at the Dairy Women’s Network annual conference in Queenstown last week.

The inspirational Canterbury businesswoman’s career spanned farming, business and governance. . . 

Interim Project Director Appointed to Dam:

Tasman District Council and Waimea Irrigators Limited, on behalf of the Waimea Water Augmentation Project (WWAP), have appointed John Hutton to the role of Interim Project Director.

The appointment is necessary now because the WWAP team overseeing the delivery of the various work streams has come to the view the project is sufficiently advanced that it needs a step up in the level of direction and a dedicated project office needs to be established.

John Hutton’s tasks are to: . . 

University of Auckland Aotearoa Māori Business Leaders Awards 2017 winners announced:

When Blanche Morrogh (nee Murray) started Kai Ora Honey in 2012, she had no idea it would bloom so quickly into a multi-million dollar global concern.
Today, the Far North-based whānau-owned business operates 2500 hives and exports 50 tonnes of Active Manuka Honey to customers in Asia, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Kuwait, with plans to export 90 tonnes-plus by 2020.

Her achievements were honoured on Friday night when Morrogh (Ngāti Kuri and Te Rarawa) received the Young Māori Business Leader Award in the 2017 University of Auckland Aotearoa Māori Business Leaders Awards at a sold-out dinner. . . 

New $5 million earthquake fund for farmers and growers:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced $5 million in new funding support for quake-struck farmers and growers.

The new Earthquake Recovery Fund will support projects that investigate long-term land use options and will also fund professional advisory services for future land use planning.

“The November earthquake has caused significant erosion and damage to land in the Hurunui, Kaikoura and Marlborough regions. Farmers, growers and foresters are now faced with the challenge of determining what to do with their land going forward and this fund is designed to help with those decisions,” says Mr Guy.

The fund is designed to provide support to farmers and growers in two different ways, depending on their needs. . . 

Entertaining evening on wellbeing coming to Kaikoura:

Take a night off on Wednesday 24 May – Farmstrong and the Rural Support Trust are inviting you to find out how healthy thinking can help you live well, and if you are in farming, to farm well too.

The free event will kick off with a free bite to eat before medical doctor and author, Dr Tom Mullholland, shares his simple and practical Healthy Thinking tools to help you manage the ups and downs that come with rural life.

“The stress that people have been under from the earthquakes alongside those in high-pressure professions such as farming, can take a toll on our wellbeing,” Farmstrong spokesperson Gerard Vaughan says. . . 

Country’s top bull breeders celebrated:

Some of the country’s top bull breeders came together in Hamilton this week  to celebrate their contribution to the next generation of elite genetics for the New Zealand dairy industry.

Breeders from all over the country (listed below) attended LIC’s Breeders’ Day after supplying a bull calf to the co-operative which went on to form part of the 2016 Premier Sires artificial breeding bull teams. The teams are responsible for approximately three out of four dairy cows being milked on New Zealand dairy farms.

LIC chairman and Nelson dairy farmer, Murray King, said the event recognises a partnership that secures a productive future for the average kiwi dairy farm, the New Zealand dairy industry and New Zealand economy. . . 

Fired-up tourism infrastructure fund appreciated:

Farmers and other ratepayers in tourist hotspots will be pleased the Government has upped the ante in co-funding new infrastructure, Federated Farmers local government spokesman Katie Milne says.

“Earlier this year Federated Farmers described a $12 million regional tourism infrastructure fund to help councils cope with tens of thousands of freedom campers as ‘a damp tea towel on a bonfire’.

“It seems the Government has heard our message, and that of others, and called out the fire brigade,” Katie says. . . 

Another Feds’ success at Dairy Woman Awards:

Federated Farmers is delighted that Mid Canterbury dairy farmer Jessie Chan Dorman was crowned 2017 Dairy Woman of the Year.

Jessie received the prestigious award at a ceremony in Queenstown last night (Thursday). She follows in the footsteps of Federated Farmers’ Board Member Katie Milne who was a previous winner in 2015. . . 


Rural round-up

30/10/2014

The rising star of beef – Keith Woodford:

With so much focus on the current dairy downturn, it is easy to miss the rising star of beef. This year beef prices have been hitting record highs, both in US and NZ dollars. Young steers and bulls are fetching anywhere between $1100 and $1600 at slaughter, depending on weight and category.

The key driver has been demand for hamburger beef from the United States. Demand from China has also been increasing.

The New Zealand Meat Industry Association has reported beef exports of 380,000 tonnes earning $2.2 billion dollars for the year ending June 2014. Since 2001, these exports have fluctuated between about 325,000 tonnes and just over 400,000 tonnes with no clear trend. Cull cows from the dairy industry have been contributing an increasing proportion of total production. . .

Launch of renewable energy initiative in Southland:

Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges has today welcomed the launch of New Zealand’s first region-wide wood energy heat hub that will help fuel the Southland economy.

Wood Energy South is a joint initiative between the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) and Venture Southland that will partner with local businesses, schools and healthcare facilities to help them convert to cleaner, renewable wood burning technology.

“Southland’s strong forestry and wood processing industry creates a rich source of wood fuel for the region. This project will help local businesses realise the renewable energy potential in their own back yard. . . .

Lee Valley Dam must be affordable:

Federated Farmers is urging the Government to support the Tasman District Council’s (TDC) Waimea Dam Project to prevent the critical shortage of water for urban and farming development.

“It’s not a matter of whether the dam goes ahead, it is how it goes ahead,” says Martin O’Connor, Federated Farmers Nelson provincial president.

“We are living in a catch 22, because the build is likely to cost irrigators $520 per hectare and increase rates by 11 cents per cubic metre a year, but our rural and urban communities cannot survive without it. . .

 Testing the mobile cow shed – Milking on the Moove:

It’s been a busy month testing out the mobile cowshed. I took this video about a month ago & I have only now found the time to put it up. I’ve been getting a few requests for a video.

It’s just a quick look at how the system works. I’m still in the testing phase & we are ironing out all the little issues. 

At the moment I’m only milking 8 cows & the neighbours are taking the milk to feed to their calves.
I can’t start selling our milk until I have been approved by the ministry of primary industries. That journey is turning out to be a bit of a drama, but I’ll write about that another day. . . .

Sanford takes on KiwiNet Business Challenge to uncover new processing technologies for mussels:

Sanford Limited is taking on a KiwiNet Business Challenge to uncover novel proposals for high-speed automated technologies that will help it process its current daily rate of 1.5 million mussels. Today, researchers at New Zealand’s public research organisations will be pitching ideas to improve mussel processing in Nelson at the Aquaculture NZ Research Workshop in a bid to win $5,000 of prototype development funding and the opportunity to work with Sanford to develop their solution for commercial application.

Sanford’s Aquaculture Manager Ted Culley says, “Processing as many molluscs as we do presents all sorts of challenges. This a great opportunity for us and others in the aquaculture industry to uncover some novel ideas with commercial potential. While we’re looking for a winning idea, we’re keen to investigate all good ideas, so we may end up with more research projects.” . . .

New fund to assist the growth of New Zealand dairy farming:

Dairy farmers looking to grow their family business will soon have access to a new source of funding, with the launch of an innovative new investment vehicle, the NZ Dairy Farming Trusts.

The Trusts – a joint venture between New Zealand farm investment company MyFarm Limited and German alternative-fund manager Aquila Capital – is seeking to raise up to $100 million from international and domestic wholesale investors. **

The initiative is aimed at providing the New Zealand dairy industry with much needed new capital in order to realise its economic potential. The fund plans to lend money at interest rates tied to milk and land prices, providing dairy farmers with alternative to taking on equity partners. . . .

Ballance moves to science specialisation:

With New Zealand farming systems as diverse as farmers themselves, Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ Science Extension team is making the shift to specialist roles to better support the changing requirements of farmers working with different climates, topography, soil types and farm types.

Science Extension Manager Ian Tarbotton says knowledge about soils, fertiliser, forages and nutrient budgets is fundamental to support farmers in reaching their goals, and the demand for more specialised knowledge is growing rapidly.

“We have two driving factors. First, higher environmental demands mean farmers are now working within tighter controls around nutrient management and protecting water quality. There is no one simple solution for each farm and it is not just a case of managing fertiliser. Feeding regimes, stocking rates, stock movements and soil types all have an influence and they will vary from farm to farm. . .

 

Ballance Ward B Election draws record field:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ call last month for director nominations for its Ward B has yielded 9 candidates hoping to replace Dean Nikora who resigned as a director ahead of taking up an international posting.

Ballance Chairman, David Peacocke, says he is delighted that Ward B shareholders have such a strong field of candidates to choose from and he believes that 9 is a record.

“The strong field indicates that we have shareholders who recognise this is an excellent opportunity to contribute to the governance of our co-operative, which is close to being a $1 billion business in terms of revenue. Having high quality candidates for director vacancies is vital to the success of our co-operative, and the response to our call for nominations has certainly achieved that. We have a very good mix with six men and three women seeking election. . .


Rural round-up

08/08/2012

Efficiency with farm inputs – a recipe for productivity

An increasingly complex and volatile global farm input market is making it imperative for New Zealand farmers to have in place good purchasing strategies, while focusing on ways to conserve soil nutrients and input use, according to a new industry report.

The report, Efficiency with farm inputs – a recipe for productivity, by agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank, says more efficient use of farm inputs – including fertilisers, chemicals and fuel –will be essential in ensuring profitability, driving productivity growth and improving environmental sustainability of farm businesses into the future.

Report author, Rabobank senior analyst Michael Harvey says, with farm inputs a vital component of modern production systems, all farmers in New Zealand are exposed to the dynamics of procuring farm inputs. “In more recent times these markets have been evolving and becoming more sophisticated, which is altering the business landscape for farmers as end users,”he says. . .

Country life # 4 –  Quote Unquote:

Very late last night – me dozing off to the Economist, my wife dozing off to her novel – we heard a cow mooing, mooing for ages and we knew from which paddock. . .

Welcome to the Hotel van der Bijl – Shawn McAvinue:

More dairy farmers are building wintering sheds in Southland.  Shawn McAvinue  talks to one, who says those building them need to “do it once and do it right”.

The back rubs end abruptly when the music wanes. Then the stampede begins. 

    Car Wash, the 1970s disco hit by Rose Royce is playing to 750 cows and a party of about 20 curious farmers, who have come to see a new $4 million wintering barn in Dunearn, near Mossburn. 

    The $9000 wireless sound system is struggling to stay tuned to The Breeze radio station and the 24 speakers in the shed begin to crackle. Then the music stops. It’s like a gunshot fired in a packed nightclub. The cows get startled then stampede. Then there’s a crackle, the radio reception kicks in and Rose Royce returns: “Talkin’ about the car wash, yeah”. 

    The fickle cows are instantly content and return to chewing on feed or massaging their rumps.

Grand plans for NZ lamb in China – Shawn McAvinue:

The sleeping giant is wide awake and has a taste for our meat, say Alliance Group marketers from Southland. 

  Alliance Group staff went to China for 10 days to meet executives from Grand Farm, the largest single importer of New Zealand sheepmeat in China. 

    Alliance marketing development services manager Gary Maclennan said he was surprised how advanced the Grand Farm processing plant in northeast China was, “and how huge their plans are for target growth. They plan to double in two to three years.” . . .

Waikato cattle farmers at higher risk of fatal disease – Natalie Akoorie:

Waikato beef and dry stock farmers have higher rates of leptospirosis, a potentially fatal bacterial disease passed to humans through animals and infected water, according to a study in the New Zealand Medical Journal.

The farmers were probably more at risk because beef and dry stock cattle were less frequently immunised against the deadly disease, according to the report by Waikato District Health Board medical officer of health Dr Anita Bell and health population officer George Cowie.

The study, done over seven years, found the Waikato has one of the country’s highest annual rates of notified cases of the infectious disease, with the majority coming from the Waitomo district. . .

Online tool could enhance farm compliance –  Shawn McAvinue:

The former head of Environment Southland says new technology can ensure good farmers having a bad day are not unfairly prosecuted by compliance officers. 

    Former Environment Southland chief executive Ciaran Keogh said among the well-attended environmental conference in Auckland yesterday were Environment Minister Amy Adams, Primary Industries Minister David Carter and Nelson MP Nick Smith. 

    Mr Keogh was invited by the Environmental Defence Society to talk about new AG-HUB technology at Aotea Centre. . .

Scott seeks higher honours – Gerald Piddock:

Mid Canterbury arable farmer Andrew Scott is now be turning his attention to the Young Horticulturist competition after being crowned the country’s top young grower. 

    The 29-year-old beat three others to win the Young Grower of the Year title at Horticulture New Zealand’s annual conference in Auckland, 

    He earned his place in the competition after winning the Young Vegetable Grower competition earlier this year. . .

Lifestyle blocks a source of tension – Peter Watson:

Rural subdivision is about to come under the spotlight as the Tasman District Council reviews its rules and research shows the region losing some of its  best land at an increasing rate.   Peter Watson reports on what  is set to be a difficult debate. 

    Tasman and Nelson are losing their most productive land to lifestyle blocks and urbanisation at one of the fastest rates in New Zealand, sparking calls for councils to take a much tougher stance on rural subdivision. 

    Recent research by Landcare shows that 24 per cent of 16,000 hectares of high-class land in Tasman is now occupied by lifestyle blocks – the third highest level among regions and well above the national average of 10 per cent. Another 1 per cent of this land has gone on urban development, double the national rate. . . .

New wine frontman takes pride in region:

Richard Flatman describes himself as a “pretty passionate, outspoken bloke who loves Nelson” and good wine. 

    They are qualities that will come in handy in his new role as chairman of the Nelson Winegrowers Association. 

    The 41-year-old viticulturist at Neudorf Vineyards takes over from Mike Brown, who stepped down last month after six impressive years as industry spokesman. . .

Good Things Come in Eights for Misha’s Vineyard

Cromwell, Central Otago, 8 August 2012 – Misha’s Vineyard has announced a distribution expansion into eight markets around the world. The number eight, a lucky number in Chinese culture, has been an auspicious number since Andy and Misha Wilkinson first planted their vineyard on an old Chinese gold mining site on Bendigo Station, Central Otago, just eight years ago.

In the northern hemisphere the new markets are the Scandinavian countries of Denmark and Sweden through Gastro-Wine and across in the important US market, Misha’s Vineyard will be represented by Vindagra USA. . .


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