Rural round-up

13/08/2019

Ground-breaking milestone for Waimea Community Dam project – Tim O’Connell:

There was excitement in spades for backers of the Waimea Community Dam with Friday’s ground-breaking ceremony signalling the start of excavation on the controversial $104.4 million project.

It will take twice as long as initially expected and cost four times as much to construct, but for those who travelled to the Lee Valley site, about 36 kilometres south-east of Nelson, there was a sense of relief and determination to see a successful outcome for the future of Tasman. 

The $104 million Waimea Dam project was rubber-stamped in November after a lively six-hour meeting where Tasman district councillors voted 9-5 to proceed. . .

Gums swallow up prime land – Terry Brosnahan:

Forestry has ripped the heart out of a small Southland community.

In the mid-1990s Waimahaka near Wyndham was one of a number of areas where farms were sold and planted out in eucalypt trees.

It was good money for those selling but the three-teacher school was the heart of a thriving community both of which were devastated.

Waimahaka school had a roll of 70 and three teachers before the trees came. When the farms sold the families left the district. It had only four pupils by the time it closed in 2013. . .

Community or carbon? – Rebecca Harper:

Like many small rural communities in New Zealand, Tiraumea has been declining for years. De-population has been exacerbated by farm amalgamations and technology, and concerned locals fear the recent flurry of farm sales to
forestry may prove the final nail in the coffin. Rebecca Harper reports.

Blink and you might miss it. There’s not much left in Tiraumea, located on Highway 52 between Alfredton and Pongaroa, in the Tararua District. Once a thriving rural community, mostly sheep and beef farmers and their families, numbers are dwindling.

The school closed in 2012, though the lone 100-year oak stands proudly in what used to be the school grounds. The hall is still there, along with the rural fire service shed and domain, but that’s about it.

In the last year a number of farms have been sold, either to forestry or manuka, with no new families moving in to replace those lost, and those left are concerned about the impact of mass pine tree plantings. . . 

Deer role challenging and rewarding – Sally Rae:

Challenging and rewarding – “probably in that order” – is how Dan Coup describes his tenure at Deer Industry New Zealand.

Mr Coup is leaving DINZ in October, after just over six years in the role, to become chief executive of the QEII National Trust.

When he joined the organisation, confidence among producers was generally low and farmers were leaving the industry, frustrated at the state of profitability.

Looking at the state of the industry now, it was “definitely better” and that was due to several factors. . .

Hawke’s Bay apple industry invests in accommodation for seasonal workers

The Hawke’s Bay apple industry says investing tens of millions of dollars in housing for staff will also help the hundreds of people in the region needing emergency accommodation.

It’s aiming to have 1592 new beds ready for next year by extensively renovating existing dwellings and building new accommodation.

The region needs enough places to house the 5400 seasonal workers it needs from the Pacific to work in next year’s harvest.

Gary Jones from the Hawke’s Bay Seasonal Labour Group said the industry was spending nearly $40 million at $25,000 a bed to house all its workers. . . 

Are cattle in the US causing a rise in global warming? – Alan Rotz & Alex Hristov:

Over the past decade, we have seen the media place blame for our changing climate on cattle. Scientific evidence does not support this claim though for cattle in the United States.  

Cattle produce a lot of methane gas, primarily through enteric fermentation and fermentation of their manure. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that, along with nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide and some other compounds in the atmosphere, create a blanket around our planet. This is good; without this atmospheric blanket, the earth would be too cold for us to survive. The current problem is that concentrations of these gases in the atmosphere are increasing, which is thickening our blanket. . . 

 


Rural round-up

10/12/2017

Liam Hehir DESTROYS a neoliberal farmer – Liam Hehir:

When I went out to see my parents the other night, Dad looked pretty worried. Every now and then I would catch him looking out the window at the sea of yellowing grass on our little dairy farm. “It’s going to be one of the worst droughts in decades,” he said absentmindedly.

My patience wore thin. “You usually vote for National, right?” I asked. Dad said nothing in silent confirmation.

I adopted my most scolding voice.

“You farmers have a lot of nerve being upset about this. You lot are always voting National. But National is the party that allowed water bottling companies to dig up our water and ship it overseas. Surprise, surprise, we’ve run out – it’s all in other countries! Now you have the temerity to wince and try to guilt us over the great summer we’re enjoying?” . . 

James and Bridget’s farm:

From the farmers:

Hi, we’re James and Bridget and we run Quambatook farm near Oamaru. The Aboriginal name of Quambatook means ‘place of rest’. We are fifth generation farmers in partnership with James’ parents Ray and Kathrin McNally.

We converted to dairy ten years ago and currently milk 800 cows increasing to 900 in the 18/19 season. We have three children, Charlotte (5), Jimmy (3) and Olivia (1). They all love getting out and about on the farm and helping.

Our main purpose is to be environmental stewards for the next generation and dairy farming is providing us with a pathway to succession.  We would love to have people come and visit our farm to inform and educate them about how a sustainable dairy business works and show them how much we care about our environment. . . 

Open Gates day a chance for farmers to show they care about the environment – Gerald Piddock:

Wynn Brown hopes opening the gates of his dairy farm will put a human face on an industry that increasingly is offside with the public.

The Matamata dairy farmer is one of eight farmers around Waikato and 40 around the country taking part in Fonterra’s Open Gates day on Sunday, December 10.

The industry “had taken a fair bit of a beating” over the last six months and he hoped the day would go some way to changing that.

“My hope is that it bridges the gap between urban and rural and that urban people can see that we are trying hard to do the right thing.” . . 

Meat company choice clearer than it’s every been – Allan Barber:

November used to be the month when we could get a comprehensive idea of the financial state of the meat industry because annual results were published in quick succession by three of the major processors: Alliance, Silver Fern Farms and AFFCO. When AFFCO was absorbed as a wholly owned subsidiary of Talley’s, there were still the two cooperatives to provide a comparison, but now SFF’s balance date is 31st December. So we must now wait until March to find out about ANZCO and SFF. This means Alliance’s result is the only one which can give a factual record of the traditional meat year, while it is still reasonably fresh in the mind.

Therefore the headline numbers – turnover up 13%, $20.2 million operating profit (2016 $10.1 m), $11.4 million pool distributions ($9.8 m) and 71% equity (70.6%) – make encouraging, if not exactly overwhelming, reading and suggest Alliance has turned a corner after last year’s near breakeven performance, while also indicating a better trading environment for the industry as a whole. This has also occurred against the backdrop of improved returns for sheep and beef farmers. That said, last season was easier for sheep meat dominant processors than for those with larger beef businesses because of the respective climate effects on livestock flows. . . 

Mouldy fed threatens animal health – Pam Tipa:

Mycotoxins threaten animal health and producer profits, so identifying and addressing these hidden challenges is important for farmers.

The Alltech 37+ test now identifies five extra mycotoxins that can threaten animal health and producer profitability.

The testing is available to New Zealand farmers, but it is done in Ireland, an Alltech NZ representative says. At least 140 samples have been sent from NZ with interesting results. . .

‘Choose Black’ wins gold:

A campaign to market mastitis treatments to dairy farmers has been recognised at the Westpac Waikato Business Awards.

The Choose Black marketing campaign was developed to showcase Virbac New Zealand’s locally made mastitis treatments.

At the start of the 2016-17 season Virbac targeted the lactating cow intramammary market where rival products had been used for many years. . .


Rural round-up

15/04/2015

Don’t use high NZ dollar as excuse – MacPherson – Phil McCarthy:

Southland farmers need to look beyond the short-term constraints of a high New Zealand dollar and put pressure on meat and milk processors to perform better in the global market-place, Federated Farmers Southland president Russell MacPherson says.  

Yesterday the New Zealand dollar was sitting at about 99.4 cents against the Australian and 76 cents against the US Dollar. Along-side the high dollar, European dairy producers are on the verge of an end to quotas meaning they could ramp up milk production.

But MacPherson said that rather than seeing the developments as threats, farmers should recognise the other side of the coin with lower costs for farm inputs and less pressure on labour costs. . .

The hills are alight – Laird Harper:

A world first on east Taranaki’s unforgiving slopes has set the dog trial community alight.

Twenty-one huntaway dogs tackled the community stage of the Tarata Sheep Dog Trial under lights on Saturday.

Club president Bryan Hocken said the innovative approach proved pivotal to the trial’s success.

The large crowd and competitors were “fizzing” and “buzzing” all night and interest from outside the region was growing.

“It was a perfect night, a perfect site, everything was magic,” he said. . .

Maternal longevity traits closer – Terry Brosnahan:

A longevity breeding value for sheep will be released later this year.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics senior geneticist Mark Young said Sheep Improvement (SIL), B+LNZ Genetics and ram breeders recently reviewed the first version of a longevity breeding value for sheep.

Young said SIL would introduce it by the end of June this year. He was responding to an article in the March, 2015 issue of Country-Wide regarding compelling arguments for genetic selection to increase longevity of ewes and beef cows. 

Maternal longevity is a key trait missing from selection indices that characterise profit for a ewe flock or a beef cow herd. . .

New pieces to the puzzle – Ginny Dodunski:

The impacts of ewe body condition, variations in pasture components and the effects of salt topdressing on bearings have produced some surprise results.

The Beef + Lamb New Zealand farmer-initiated technology transfer (FITT) programme-funded trial investigated bearings on a large South Island sheep and beef property.

Lochiel Station, bordered by the Waiau River in north Canterbury, runs 42,000 stock units and has a history of high ewe losses from bearings.

“We have worked hard on improving our feed management and ewe body condition, plus have stabilised what was genetically a very variable flock,” station manager Kim Robinson said. . .

Diversity of opinion welcomed at Federated Farmers – Chris Lewis:

A few weeks ago I went through a bit of a learning curve about how to inadvertently make headlines. 

I’d thrown out a few thoughts at a Federated Farmers’ executive meeting on where our industry might be heading.  Those musings of mine morphed into front page news and down in Wellington what was claimed to be fixed Federated Farmers policy in parliamentary question time.

But I shouldn’t be too thin skinned about this.  Most of Waikato Federated Farmers’ meetings are fully open to whoever might want to turn up and we have always had a diversity of opinion expressed.

Our organisation has flourished the most when members have shown passion for a topic and offered to roll up their sleeves and offer their services to help on an issue.

This is how we initially attract most out our elected people to our organisation. . .

Lighting the way to dairy savings – Matthew Cawood:

ENERGY is a a major cost for dairy farmers, and one that keeps inexorably rising – which is why Dairy Australia has launched an initiative to identify energy waste in dairies.

The organisation secured $1 million in funding from the federal government to deliver the ‘Smarter energy use on Australian dairy farms’ project, which aims to improve energy efficiency on dairies.

Many of the potential energy leakages on farms, and the options for resolving them, are written up in a Dairy Australia booklet, Saving energy on dairy farms.  . .

 


Rural round-up

16/02/2014

Price fixing doesn’t work Part XVII – Tim Worstall:

Thailand is finding out, in a most painful manner, what happens to those who try to fix prices:

Thailand, once the world’s biggest exporter, is short of funds to help growers under Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s 2011 program to buy the crop at above-market rates. After the government built record stockpiles big enough to meet about a third of global import demand, exports and prices have dropped, farmers aren’t being paid, and the program is the target of anti-corruption probes. Political unrest may contribute to slower growth in Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy.

In order to curry favour with the rice farmers who compose a substantial part of the electorate prices were fixed and fixed high. The inevitable thus happens, magically more is produced than anyone wants to consume and here at least it is looking like the government will go bust over it. “Produced” is of course a flexible word: there are long running reports of rice being smuggled over the Burmese border to take advantage of those high Thai prices. . . .

NAIT helps clear Northland TB infection:

ONLY ONE bovine tuberculosis (TB) infected herd remains in Northland.

Six other herds have been cleared by TBfree New Zealand. The single, remaining infected herd has recently had a whole herd TB test and is also on the verge of being cleared of the disease. The six other herds were linked by stock movements made before the disease was diagnosed.

TBfree Northland committee chair Neil MacMillan QSM said the cooperation of farmers and landowners in allowing TB testing and wild animal control contractors’ access to their properties to remove the disease was appreciated. . .

Rain and visitors pour into Waimumu – Terry Brosnahan:

It was cold, wet and muddy, but the money still poured in at the Southern Field Days at Waimumu, near Gore, this week.

Persistent rain on the second day of the three-day event didn’t deter farmers from attending and spending.  

Exhibitors spoken to reported strong sales and enquiries. They said farmers and contractors had done their research and were ready to do business rather than just come for a day out.

Field days chairman Mark Dillon said 12,100 people paid to attend the first day and 12,500 the second. Figures for Friday, the final day were not available when Farmers Weekly went to print. In 2012 a record 33,000 people went through the gates of the biennial event. Based on the area filled, a record number of cars were parked. . . .

Biocontrol bugs on show at Waimumu:

THEY’RE CREEPY, they’re crawly, and they’re on display in the Environment Southland marquee at Southern Field Days.

Following on from biocontrol success in several areas, a raft of biocontrol agents including Dung beetles, Broom galls mites, Green thistle beetles; Gorse soft shoot moths and Ragwort plume moths are making an appearance in the council’s tent this year.

Senior biosecurity officer Randall Milne says it’s an opportunity to educate the public about biosecurity and biocontrol agents. . .

Success: farming smarter, not harder

Fifteen years ago Doug Avery was locked into failure.

The Marlborough sheep and beef farmer was barely coping, personally and financially, after years of successive drought had ravaged his farm.

“The severity of eight years of drought, including four one-in-one-hundred-year droughts, was so bad that I recognised the road that I was travelling was completely stuffed,” Avery says.

His 1500ha farm, Bonaveree, overlooking the Dominion Salt facility at Lake Grassmere, has been in the family for nearly 100 years.

But the glorious sunshine and drying nor’westerly winds that create perfect conditions for extracting salt from seawater were destroying the 59-year-old and his farming business.  . .

From white gold to kiwi gold:

Exchanging the dairy farm for kiwifruit vines came down to seeing the golden-sweet potential that was ripe for the picking for Bay of Plenty couple Elaine and Wayne Skiffington.

After 28 years of dairy farming, the couple decided to invest all their efforts into kiwifruit around 12 years ago and have never looked back.

“We saw the potential kiwifruit had to offer and went for it,” Wayne says.

Originally purchasing their 50 hectare property in Pongakawa, in the Western Bay of Plenty 20 years ago for run-off purposes for the dairy farm, it also happened to include a kiwifruit orchard. Not knowing much about kiwifruit but not wanting to get rid of the vines, the couple decided to lease the orchard to Direct Management Services (DMS), while they ran the farm. . .


Rural round-up

16/06/2013

Fieldays: Price rebound tempered – Terry Brosnahan:

Lamb prices will average $95/head for the season and milksolids will be about $6.80/kg ANZ economist Con Williams predicts.

Williams told a seminar audience at the National Fieldays the lamb crop is estimated to be 6-10% down because of fewer breeding ewes and a lower lambing percentage. This means less supply than in the 2011-12 season but globally it won’t mean the prices will be as high as back then. A 17.5kg lamb will be worth $5.40-6/kg or more depending on the size of the lamb crop and procurement behaviour. . .

Fieldays: Kiwi-German technology boosts NZ dairying – Richard Rennie:

The expansion of German giant GEA Farm Technologies in the dairy sector has brought a cross pollination of research and innovation aimed at boosting farm productivity.

This year’s Mystery Creek National Fieldays marked the giant corporation’s first with two New Zealand dairy businesses under its wings.

These were milking equipment company Milfos and hygiene-identification company FIL.

The acquisition of NZ-owned Milfos last year means GEA is represented now in all aspects of dairy operation, from dairy shed equipment to animal identification for mating. . .

Whey powder message is starting to sink in – Richard Rennie:

Telling a compelling case about how a high-grade whey powder can deliver healthier, heavier and ultimately more productive calves requires clearing a few hurdles.

It’s a tough ask, compared sometimes to selling coal to Newcastle, in a country where conventional fat-based milk powder dominates rearing practice.

However, with the industry seeking more productive livestock, it appears AgriVantage managing director Warren Tanner may be hitting the right notes with his whey powder range. . .

Avery NZ”s top ag communicator – RivettingKate Taylor:

Marlborough farmer Doug Avery is willing to talk to anyone about integrating lucerne into pastoral systems to achieve a leap in productivity and profitability.

His enthusiasm and ability in communicating how he has achieved this with spectacular results on his own property have won him the 2013 Landcorp Agricultural Communicator of the Year. . . .

On your plates – KR Connect:

Food trucks, foam, farm-to-table – these are all trends that have influenced what and how we eat over the years, but while some are going strong, others are fading away. Fortunately, there will always be new innovations to keep us eating. Here are five that you may be soon seeing on your plates. . . .


Rural round-up

02/06/2013

$10m flour mill opens – Gerald Piddock:

New Zealand’s newest flour mill is “quintessentially New Zealand”, Prime Minister John Key says.

Mr Key was in Timaru yesterday to open Farmers Mill, the country’s only independently owned and operated flour producer.

The mill produces biscuit flour for food manufacturer Griffin’s, but in the near future will also produce a diverse range of flour, including bread and pizza flour.

“You can look out there and see wheat growing in a paddock in South Canterbury and know that it’s coming to a facility like this to be milled into a product like a chocolate chip biscuit,” Mr Key said. “Next time I’m having a Krispie in the Beehive, I’m going to know exactly where that Krispie came from.” . . .

Awards reflect change in focus

The changing face of farming is behind three new categories added to the South Island Farmer of the Year competition run by the Lincoln University Foundation this year.

Winners will each receive $5000 for the new categories in human resource management, technology use and efficient use of resources.

Furthermore, the competition’s top prize has been raised to $20,000.

Foundation board of trustees chairman Ben Todhunter said the top prize was given as a travel grant to allow the winners to go overseas to look at other farming practices, examine new technologies and innovations to improve their farm business. . .

Farmers should run the country – Alan Emmerson:

We’ve had a great autumn here in Wairarapa, according to some of the long term locals the best ever.

We now have a limited amount of cattle feed. I doubted the even remote possibility of that happening three short months ago.

It is all the more surprising considering that in early March we were in the throes of a massive drought. Again, according to some of the local crew, the worst ever.

Then in mid-March it bucketed down, around 180mm. It has been warm and raining ever since. . .

Couple’s composites take ewe hogget title – Terry Brosnahan:

A North Canterbury couple’s perfect recipe won them the 2013 New Zealand Ewe Hogget competition in Dunedin last week.

Jean and Robert Forrester’s composite hoggets scanned a colossal 150% last year and lambed 133%. The hoggets weighed 56kg three weeks before the competition judges’ visited.

National convener Stephen Rabbidge said the Forresters’ type of sheep and the production from them under a relatively high stocking made them winners.

“Every ingredient made the recipe perfect.” . . .

In the dog house and other rubbish – Mad Bush Farm:

We had to get Simon a new kennel, after he totally demolished his old one. You would think that being given a whole brand new warm new house to live in, would spark some excitement.

Yeah right.

Well he wouldn’t have anything to do with it for an entire week. Instead, despite the suggestion that it would keep him out of the weather, now that winter is well and truly setting in, the idiot would actually use it. No of course not. Instead he stubbornly sat on top of what was left of his old kennel, and slept out in the freezing cold. . .


Winning over public vital

04/04/2012

Farmers are hard-working, entrepreneurial risk taking business people.

That’s how most of us in the industry see them. But that this isn’t necessarily the general perception because the biggest enemy for farming is emotion:

Dairy farmers need to win the emotions of the public if they are to reach their potential, says a top manager at DairyNZ.

About 300 farmers, investors and researchers heard the latest on dairying at the NZ Dairy Business Conference in Palmerston North last week. The conference was organised by dairy farmers for farmers.

DairyNZ’s manager of sustainability Rick Pridmore said a major threat to dairying was poor perception, which could restrict future growth, and its reputation on the international market.

“How do we turn that into an opportunity – the biggest enemy is emotion,” he said.

“Public perception is largely based on emotion.”

The way to combat that was to remove poor performers and to deal with things such as animal welfare, nutrient run off and effluent management.

Just how strong those emotions are is illustrated by the editor’s note in this month’s Countrywide (not yet online).

Terry Brosnahan wrote about a conversation with a passenger on a plane which was civil until Terry said he edited a farming magazine:

At that point his demeanour changed and from him came a tirade of abuse towards farmers. to him farmers were greedy polluters who profiteered from the high price of milk and meat. They had little regard for struggling Kiwi families even though farmers had received millions in handouts from taxpayers for adverse climatic events. . .

This anti-farming rhetoric is nothing new (though never as intense). A growing number of city dwellers are expressing anti-farming sentiments as economic times get tougher and jealousy rears its ugly head. these are struggling middle-income earners.

They read about high farm product prices and think farmers are rolling  in drought. they know little of the sacrifices farmer s make and the capital they risk, that it takes good management skills to run a successful farming business . . .

That doesn’t matter because as Dr Pridmore said, emotion beats facts.

There are plenty of good news stories about farming but they’re generally on the rural pages of newspapers, and in specialist publications or programmes.

Country Calendar is the exception, a rural focussed television programme that airs in prime time and highlights good farmers and farming practices.

But too often the only farming stories which hit the headlines in general media are the negative ones which feed the stereotypes and fuel the anti-farming emotions.


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