Rural round-up

25/09/2021

Management thinking 100 years ahead

The couple behind one of New Zealand’s most sustainable farms are challenging other farmers to think three or four generations into the future when making decisions.

The call comes from Central Hawke’s Bay farmers Evan and Linda Potter. The couple are the Ballance Farm National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing, and current Gordon Stephenson Trophy holders – so they know a thing or two about the environment.

The Potters bought their 566 hectare hill country sheep, beef and deer farm – Waipapa Station – in 1997. They describe it as “a blank canvas” when they arrived at the gat with nothing more than fencing gear and a team of dogs. . . 

Eight finalists announced for prestigious Trans-Tasman agricultural award:

Judges of the Zanda McDonald Award, Australasia’s agricultural badge of honour, have announced eight finalists, and will crown not one but two winners for 2022 – one from each side of the Tasman.

Now in its eighth year, the prestigious award recognises future young leaders working in agriculture, and provides an impressive prize package centred around a tailored trans-Tasman mentoring programme. The eight talented finalists – four from Australia and four from New Zealand – have been selected for their passion for the industry, strong leadership skills, and the contributions they’re making in the primary sector.

The four New Zealand finalists are Adam Thompson, 35, director of Restore Native Plant Nursery, beef farmer and mortgage broker from Cambridge; Katie Vickers, 28, Head of Sustainability and Land Use for Farmlands, from Christchurch; Olivia Weatherburn, 33, National Extension Programme Manager for Beef + Lamb New Zealand, from Mossburn Southland; and Rhys Roberts, 34, CEO of market garden and farm operation Align Farms, from mid-Canterbury. . . 

Fonterra moves on strategy and structure – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra pulls up the wagons to defend its territory, but is also hoping to sortie out with new nutritional endeavours

Fonterra’s release of its 2020/21 annual report has occurred in association with an additional big dump of information laying out the proposed future for Fonterra.  In essence, Fonterra is confirming that it is going to be a New Zealand company owned by farmers, with the first priority being to maximise returns to farmers.

That position should in itself come as no surprise. Fonterra has been talking that language for three years as it has divested itself of various overseas assets. However, this is the first time that there is a more comprehensive laying out of the long-term strategy, including consequent policy decisions. There are multiple headliners. . . 

Feds gives thumbs up for cross-border and jab efforts:

Federated Farmers is giving a shout out to government agencies handling the movement of essential workers across alert level boundaries, and to those DHBs and medical centres reaching out to rural people over COVID vaccinations.

“With Auckland now at Alert level 3 and access to takeaways resumed, there are still essential workers having to cross alert level boundaries south and north of Auckland. Many of them work in or with the primary industries – farmers, vets, stock transporters and food processors to name a few,” Feds national board member and employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“Quite rightly, essential workers are required to have proper documentation and it might all have been a big hassle.

“However, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, with the Ministry for Primary Industries, have made the process seamless and sensible. Hats off to them,” Chris said. . . 

Surprise win for rural internet pioneer :

Taranaki wireless broadband pioneer Matt Harrison has been elected to the board of TUANZ, the influential tech users industry group.

As one of two new regional members of the board of 10, Harrison says his “somewhat surprising election” reflects the new importance TUANZ is placing on making sure rural New Zealanders are included in its goal of making New Zealand one of the top 10 digital countries worldwide by 2030.

The election has come as a surprise for Harrison, the managing director of Primo. He says he was up against 15 other strong candidates from the telco industry, almost all of whom were from large companies in the main centres. He says being a regional internet provider and an advocate for rural users may have swung the vote his way.

“This shows me that there is strong support from the whole industry for what we are doing at Primo in providing connections to rural people who would otherwise miss out on having a quality internet link.” . . 

Lab grown meat is supposed to be inevitable. The  science tells a different story – Joe Fassler:

Splashy headlines have long overshadowed inconvenient truths about biology and economics. Now, extensive new research suggests the industry may be on a billion-dollar crash course with reality.

Paul Wood didn’t buy it.

For years, the former pharmaceutical industry executive watched from the sidelines as biotech startups raked in venture capital, making bold pronouncements about the future of meat. He was fascinated by their central contention: the idea that one day, soon, humans will no longer need to raise livestock to enjoy animal protein. We’ll be able to grow meat in giant, stainless-steel bioreactors—and enough of it to feed the world. These advancements in technology, the pitch went, would fundamentally change the way human societies interact with the planet, making the care, slaughter, and processing of billions of farm animals the relic of a barbaric past.

It’s a digital-era narrative we’ve come to accept, even expect: Powerful new tools will allow companies to rethink everything, untethering us from systems we’d previously taken for granted. Countless news articles have suggested that a paradigm shift driven by cultured meat is inevitable, even imminent. But Wood wasn’t convinced. For him, the idea of growing animal protein was old news, no matter how science-fictional it sounded. Drug companies have used a similar process for decades, a fact Wood knew because he’d overseen that work himself. . .


Rural round-up

26/02/2021

Major task ahead for NZ farming – Matthew Reeves:

New modelling from the Climate Change Commission has outlined a major task ahead for the agribusiness industry in New Zealand.

The Government has committed to an extensive emissions reduction plan in order to combat climate change, involving a 10% decline in agricultural emissions by 2030, and a 24% to 47% decline by 2050.

Achieving this target will require major changes across the agricultural sector, including a significant decline in herd sizes and the uptake of new technologies.

The agriculture sector is the largest greenhouse gas emitter in New Zealand, accounting for around 40% of current emissions in the country. The bulk of this comes from livestock methane emissions, including 51% from the country’s 6.1 million dairy cattle, and 47% from the country’s 26.2 million sheep and 4 million beef cattle. . .

Milk packs punch agaisnt flu – Gerald Piddock:

We already know milk is good for the bones, but now research shows that drinking milk could help ward off the flu.

New research has found that a protein-based ingredient from milk is an effective antiviral agent against a common influenza virus species.

The study commissioned by New Zealand company Quantec, and completed by an independent US laboratory, found that Immune Defence Proteins (IDP) was 120% more effective against the virus Influenza A when compared to the protein lactoferrin.

Testing on the herpes simplex virus netted a similar result. . . 

‘RA 20 virus’ a danger to New Zealand farming – Doug Edmeades:

There is another pandemic sweeping the nation.

It is a new, exceedingly virulent virus which is likely to do more damage to the New Zealand economy in the long term than Covid-19, if left unchecked.

I am calling for an immediate lockdown – total elimination is essential to prevent New Zealand agriculture slipping back to the dark ages.

It is coded RA20 but the full medical name is “Regenerative Agriculture 2020”. . . 

Better connection now – Rural News:

We may now be into the third decade of the 21st century, but unfortunately much of NZ’s rural broadband and mobile coverage remains at third world levels.

That is unacceptable in a modern, first-world country like New Zealand. How is it still the case that many farmers and rural businesses around the country have to buy costly equipment to get broadband, while many others cannot even get mobile phone coverage at all?

As the Technology Users Association of NZ (TUANZ) chief executive Craig Young says, rural people should be getting the same level of connectivity in terms of broadband and mobile coverage as the people who live in urban areas.

It is even more important for rural people to have high quality connectivity, given their often remote locations and the fact that they are running significant businesses – not only farming, but other service related enterprises. . . 

Manuka saving honey’s buzz – Richard Rennie:

While demand for Manuka honey continues to surge, other honey varieties remain moribund, with low prices starting to pressure beekeepers out of the industry.

The latest Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) 2020 Apiculture Monitoring report has highlighted how a good harvest season last summer translated into a surge in volumes of all honey produced, with per hive yield of manuka up 39% on the year before in the North Island.

Overall however, the sector experienced a slide of 6% in average export prices despite a weaker NZ dollar, with a significant 28% export volume increase driving the overall 20% increase in total export value.

The report has highlighted the growing gap between high-value manuka and all other multi-floral manuka/non-manuka honeys. . . 

Helping emerging industries is growing Australian agriculture – John Harvey:

Opportunities within the agricultural sector are constantly evolving.

We see consumers hungry for new products and changing requirements and expectations for food production.

You only have to look at shifting attitudes about eating meat to see how quickly things evolve.

And that is one of the reasons I think it is vital that Australia continues to invest in our emerging agricultural and food production industries. . . 


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