Rural round-up


Farmers seek off-farm income to counter rising costs – Heather Chalmers:

A farming leader says it is no surprise that farms are increasingly reliant on off-farm income.  

A Lincoln University survey has shown just over a quarter of farms obtained 30 per cent or more of their income from off-farm sources.

Farmers were struggling to keep up with the mainly inflation-caused price squeeze, the survey found. But the authors said some families found the rural lifestyle compensated for tight finances. . .

Dairy farm effluent compliance in Tasman District coming up roses – Cherie Sivignon:

Tasman district deputy mayor Tim King says the result of the 2017-18 dairy farm effluent compliance survey is a “good story all round”.

It revealed 90 of the 96 farms inspected were fully compliant for effluent management. The other six, graded non-compliant, comprised five with minor ponding and one that failed to adhere to setback rules.

In a report on the matter, council compliance and investigation officer Kat Bunting says all six instances of non-compliance were considered a minor breach of the rules that resulted in “no adverse environmental effect”.

Formal written warnings with directions for improvements were sent to those six farms and return visits found full and continued compliance. . .

Rabobank Global Dairy Top 20 – A Shuffling of the deck chairs:

Dairy price recovery in 2017 has positively affected the combined turnover of the top 20 global dairy companies, which, in 2017, was up 7.2% on the year in US dollar terms and 5.1% in euro terms, according to RaboResearch’s latest Global Dairy Top 20 – A Shuffling of the Deck Chairs report.

“For the second consecutive year, there were no new entrants to the Dairy Top 20 list, with the USD 5bn threshold difficult to achieve due to a scarcity of large acquisitions or mergers.” says Peter Paul Coppes, Senior Analyst – Dairy. “However, while the names have remained the same, the order shifted in 2017.” . . 

UK’s Daily Mail urges Theresa May to listen to Kiwi trade expert– Point of Order:

Brits who may be despairing at the lack of progress on Brexit, as Britain’s political class trade blows and the process becomes bogged down in politicking, have been told “there is a small corner of a government department that they can turn to for cheer”.

This is the office of New Zealand’s Crawford Falconer, Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser at the Department of International Trade, described by the Daily Mail as

“… a man of immense experience in such matters. And, in contrast to the doomsayers, his message about Brexit is one of almost unbounded optimism.”

 The article goes on to say: . .

Comvita touted as potential bidder for Manuka Health company – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, the NZX-listed manuka honey company, declined to comment on whether it is interested in making a bid for honey company Manuka Health New Zealand which has reportedly been put up for sale by its Australian owner Pacific Equity Partners.

The Australian newspaper suggested Comvita or its largest shareholder China Resources Ng Fung as possible buyers of Manuka Health, which was put on the market about six weeks ago for more than A$200 million by PEP and advisers Luminis Partners. Manuka Health was reportedly sold to the Australian private equity firm in 2015 for $110 million. . .


Inter-club challenge still going strong:

The last hurrah for the Canterbury dog trial season, the annual Inter-Club Challenge, was held at Waihi Station, home to the Geraldine Collie Club, on July 1.

The day turned from a ”rugged-up” winter’s morning to a balmy northwest afternoon.

The Canterbury Centre is one of the largest centres in New Zealand,comprising 18 club trials stretching from Cheviot in the north to Mackenzie in the east and Levels (Timaru area) in the south, encompassing all areas in between.

In its 25th year of competition, the trial attracted a strong gallery of spectators and team supporters from throughout the province, testament to the strength and popularity of the sport. . .

Strong interest expected with vacant governance roles on Ballance board:

 A “genuine and rare governance opportunity” has opened up with one of New Zealand’s industry-leading rural co-operatives with Ballance Agri-Nutrients announcing that two farmer-elected directors will be stepping down from its Board this year.

Ballance shareholders are currently being notified of the vacancies created by the decisions of Gray Baldwin not to seek re-election, and Donna Smit who is standing down in the North Island Ward (N). Murray Taggart is retiring by rotation (as required under the Co-operative’s Constitution) and seeking re-election in the South Island Ward (S). . .

MyFarm launches $17.6m Hop Garden investment

MyFarm has launched a $17.64 million investment into what will become New Zealand’s largest hop garden.

The opportunity to invest in Tapawera Hop Garden Limited Partnership includes the purchase of a 96-hectare property and the lease of a second 50-hectare property which will be developed into a 116 canopy (effective) hectare garden. Half of the garden will be planted this spring alongside other development such as building hop picking and drying facilities and worker accommodation. . . 

TB or not TB


Tasman District is on the verge of being declared TB Free:

Tasman district is within touching distance of reaching a milestone in the battle against bovine tuberculosis, a scourge of cattle and deer farmers.

The district’s farms could be free of the highly infectious disease, which is spread principally by possums, provided the one remaining infected beef cattle herd, north of Murchison, returns a second clear test in December and no new cases emerge in the meantime. . .

However, farmers and animal health authorities warn that there can be no let-up in efforts to tackle the disease, which remains a threat to New Zealand’s reputation as a top agricultural exporter.

Roy Bensemann, a Sherry River farmer who chairs the Tasman TBfree committee, says he has seen the impact TB has wrought on farms in his valley.

“It highlighted to me how devastating it can be for farmers, financially and emotionally.”

Not only is there the social stigma, it severely restricts what farmers can do with their stock, which cannot be moved or sold, unless it is to the freezing works for slaughter at much reduced values.

It means dairy farmers have to either buy in supplementary feed or find winter grazing close by, and they cannot sell their heifers.

It can take a long time for restrictions to be lifted, with two clear herd tests needed at least six months apart.

“Quite often, other infected animals can turn up as you go through the process of getting the whole herd blood tested.”

There are also cases where infections in older animals in particular don’t show up through testing and are only discovered when they are culled and slaughtered. . .

That’s what happened on our farm.

We bought a herd of cows from the West Coast. they’d been tested and declared TB-free but a few years later a test came back positive in several cows.

They had to be killed, some had the disease, some didn’t.

The herd was tested and declared TB-free again but the next season another cow tested positive.

Eventually an older cow dried herself off mid-season and was sent to the freezing works where they found she was riddled with TB event hough she’d never tested positive.

New Zealand already runs one of the most successful TB control programmes in the world, which has made much more progress than predicted, with new research and technology promising even better outcomes, Mr Bensemann says.

It has the added spinoff of protecting native bird and plant populations. . .

Danny Templeman, South Island relationship manager of OSPRI New Zealand, which recently took over TB control from the Animal Health Board, says success in Tasman has been built on getting possum numbers down to one or two per 10ha in buffer zones up to 20 kilometres deep around Kahurangi and its bush margins.

Aerial poisoned bait drops in more remote parts of the park have proved more effective, and for longer than expected, which has allowed the number of ground control operations to be reduced.

“We have been able to get in front of the disease and push it back into the bush.

“But we need to continue this effort.”

A concerted effort is needed and must be maintained to eradicate the disease which is a risk to human and animal health, native flora and birds.

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