Rural round-up

December 23, 2013

Positive steps to help mental health – Terry Tacon:

Like the mountain that dominates the skyline in Taranaki, the province’s farming industry has a dark side – the effect problems can have on farmers’ mental health.

Recognition of the issue prompted the region’s Rural Support Trust, with the assistance of Like Minds Taranaki, to get behind a publication called Feeling Down on the Farm – Mental Health in Rural Taranaki.

It’s a bid to give farmers somewhere to turn when they have problems and follows a similar publication in southern New Zealand in 2010. . .

Riding high on kindness – Tim Fulton:

A dairy family in Waikato has been part of a daisy chain of generosity that started with tanker drivers upgrading a young man’s trike.

Andrew Oliver, from Puketaha, had been rattling around on his trusty metal steed for a couple of decades.

So Fonterra’s tanker drivers rallied to give him something more modern, complete with a number plate proclaiming Andrew No.1 Fonterra Fan.

Andrew, who is almost 30, has a rare form of impaired brain development known as Fryns-Aftimos Syndrome.

He’s the only New Zealander with the condition and one of just 15 worldwide. He also has five types of epilepsy. . .

Andrew has spell-binding impact

Andrew Oliver inspired Andrew Lusty from the start.

As a Fonterra tanker driver, Andrew Lusty found quickly he would hear the other Andrew wheeling along on his trike before he could see him.

Drivers receive a message on their cab screens saying there is a disabled person on the Olivers’ farm to watch out for but Andrew usually races to the dairy shed like a whirlwind.

One night on the job driver Andrew gave his mate a new Fonterra hat. As he drove to the next property he did some thinking, then suggested to a colleague it would be a good idea to get Andrew a new trike. . .

Food security: an urban issue – Caspar van Vark:

According to the United Nations human settlements programme, UN Habitat, Africa is the fastest urbanising continent in the world. By 2050, 60% of all Africans will be living in cities.

But urbanisation in Africa is not going hand-in-hand with widespread economic growth: many cities are in fact seeing a proliferation of urban poverty. Food insecurity and undernutrition is therefore also increasingly an urban issue, and with urban people more dependent than rural populations on whatever food they can afford to buy, it’s tied closely to livelihoods.

A new project by the World Vegetable Centre (AVRDC) is trying to address this by pulling together the issues of urban growth, migration, livelihoods and undernutrition, and drawing specific attention to the role of peri-urban ‘corridors’ of production outside cities. . .

Christmas wishes on-farm – Bruce Wills:

. . . Like farming the media isn’t immune from having its share of critics as it performs an invaluable role.  The term ‘fourth estate’ was coined for the media in the 17th Century to emphasise its importance but independence from Government.  While the traditional print media faces its challenges I agree with the journalist Rob Hosking; this is evolutionary pain as opposed to being an extinction event.  I believe that media quality will deliver readership quantity.

The shame perhaps being that quality can be somewhat uneven.  In the past couple of weeks there have been some major developments on the trade front but you wouldn’t know it from the scant attention it received from the broadcast media.  I was told one media person was scoffing over the newsworthiness of a tariff agreement with China-Taipei, which is worth $40 million to ‘NZ Inc’ in year one and over $70 million by year four.  Forget that.  They wanted to talk up the prospects of drought instead. . .

Fresh produce industry welcomes New Zealand Government’s recommendation to establish food safety centre:

The Produce Marketing Association Australia and New Zealand (PMA A-NZ), the leading trade association representing companies from every segment of the fresh fruit, vegetable, and floral supply chain, has welcomed an in-principle acceptance by the New Zealand Government of a recommendation to establish a centre of food safety science and research in New Zealand.

The establishment of a food safety centre was one of 29 recommendations released on Wednesday in the Dairy Food Safety Regulatory System report commissioned on the back of investigations into the Fonterra food safety scare, which resulted in New Zealand dairy products being blocked from entering foreign countries.

“A food safety centre in New Zealand will draw attention to the important issue of food safety and traceability preparedness,” CEO of PMA Australia-New Zealand Michael Worthington said today. . .


Rural round-up

June 11, 2011

Women are “half the equation” – Sally Rae:

Women play a crucial role in farming operations, Eloise Neeley [Otago Federated farmers junior vice-president] says.

They were often overlooked yet they made a very valuable contribution, Mrs Neeley said, describing them as “half the farming equation”.

Frequently, their work was behind the scenes, either in administration or organising what was happening on the farm, and they were also “bringing up future farmers”, she said. . .

New president after “fair deal on farms” – Sally Rae:

Richard Strowger [North Otago Federated Farmers president] wants to see farmers get a “fair deal”.

Although New Zealand had a population of four million, there were just 45,000 farmers who produced “the wealth of the country” and Mr Strowger wanted to represent the farming community to help “give them a fair shot”.

He has been a longtime member of the farmer lobby group, saying it was the voice for farmers and he was pleased to see membership growing. . .

Partnerships contribute to global picture of sustainability:

BusinessNZ and Landcare Research have partnered with the producer of the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting framework, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), to provide an accurate and complete sustainability reports database for New Zealand.

BusinessNZ chief executive Phil O’Reilly said consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact of products and services. “Businesses providing transparent and comparable reporting on how they manage their economic, environmental, social and governance impacts is a valuable way for them to respond to consumers’ concerns and demonstrate their commitment to sustainable development.” . . .

Contest winners entered to learn – Sally Rae:

It’s all about teamwork for New Zealand ewe hogget competition winners Phill Hunt and Lizzie Carruthers.

Ms Carruthers does the stock work on Fork Farm at Maungawera, near Wanaka, while her husband looks after the maintenance, tractor work and book work.

They give each other a hand when required – “not book work, though”, Ms Carruthers quickly quipped. . .

Bees working under radar

A TINY creature that plays a major role in the production of $5 billion worth of primary exports was recently celebrated by way of ‘Bee Week’.

The bee makes its greatest contribution by pollinating crops, but New Zealand also exports $100m-worth of honey products.

Daniel Poole, of the National Bee Keepers Association, says for many years bees have flown underneath the radar with people failing to recognise their value. He says this is now changing and people are starting to appreciate just how important bees are. . .

Why the Bee team is the A team

Since 2000, Varroa has seen the loss of at least 200,000 bee colonies.  Federated Farmers believes it doesn’t matter what hat farmers wear; sheep, kiwifruit, mohair or dairy, all farmers are on the bee team, which is actually, New Zealand’s A team.

“Last week, Bee Week celebrated the honey bee and the massive contribution it makes to our economy and farm system,” says John Hartnell, Federated Farmers Bees spokesperson.

“While our direct income as an industry sits at around $100 million, modest in the much larger agricultural scheme of things, bees enable almost all sectors except fisheries and forestry. . .

Federated farmers High Country conference  chair’s opening address:

The theme for this year’s High Country Conference is “Sensible Solutions”.

This could be viewed by some as being a bit optimistic. After all, this sector has been seeking sensible solutions for nearly 70 years and has found it an uphill struggle, particularly when faced with bureaucratic reticence and political ideology.

However, I believe we have seen more forward progress in the past 12 months in a variety of issues, than has been evident for many years. There is still much work to be done on a number of matters, but the fact that many people are constructively involved in that work is a positive sign . . .

Wet mowing kills weeds – Taranaki Daily News reports:

Research has provided evidence to show that mowing californian thistle in the rain really does help get rid of the weed.

It will come as no surprise to many farmers, but there is now evidence that mowing pasture in the rain helps to reduce the abundance of Cirsium arvense.

It is the most destructive pastoral weed in New Zealand.

Research has provided quantitative evidence that mowing in the rain really works, as well as uncovering a potential biological basis for the effect. . .

SC Finance receiver sued by Fonterra director – NZ Herald:

Dairy Holdings shareholder and director Colin Armer and his wife Dale have filed a High Court claim against their fellow shareholders, including South Canterbury Finance (SCF) receivers and government representatives Kerryn Downey and William Black of McGrathNicol.

They allege the receivers efforts to sell the company breach a shareholders’ agreement and that attempts to force the Armers out have stooped to blackmail. . .

Third milk inquiry looming – Andrea Fox:

A third official investigation could be imminent into how dairy giant Fonterra sets the price of milk for New Zealand after the chairman of Parliament’s commerce select committee said an explanation by government officials left her with more questions than answers.

Competition watchdog the Commerce Commission is due to report any day on whether a full price control inquiry into retail milk is warranted after official complaints, including an allegation from the processing industry that Fonterra is artificially inflating the price of milk. . .

Dags and fibre make grass grow – Owen Hembry:

An Auckland firm has rolled out an ingenious use for the byproducts of an unlikely combination; sheep and coffee.

Woolgro mixes dag wool – which is often exported for low grade products – and jute fibre from used coffee sacks to create a seed-infused mat to be rolled out over ground ready for a lawn.

Geoff Luke is a co-founder and director with a background in residential architecture and had struggled with different methods of laying lawns.

“The beauty of the mat is that it does create the perfect germination environment for the seed,” he said. . .

Success: funding helps make most of milk – Christine Nikiel:

Angel investors’ $500,000 aims to boost sales of dairy-based health products.

The word mastitis can strike fear into the heart of even the staunchest dairy farmer. The painful udder infection is the most common disease in dairy cows and can have a huge impact on milk production.

Antibiotics are the most common treatment, but using them means the cow must be isolated, sometimes for weeks, and the milk thrown away. . .

Honour shocks TB expert – Jon Morgan:

When Paul Livingstone opened the letter with the New Zealand Government seal on it he couldn’t believe his eyes.

“I had to check the envelope to see if it had my name on it,” the Animal Health Board expert in tuberculosis in possums says.

The letter told him he was to be awarded the Queen’s Service Order for services to veterinary science. “I was astounded. It never entered my head that I could get an award like that.”

But it had entered the heads of many other people. Farming, ministry and veterinary leaders in New Zealand and overseas wrote in to back the recommendation of the award and Dr Livingstone’s name was included in the weekend’s Queen’s Birthday honours . . .

 Preserving for posterity’s sake:

The region has already lost 97 per cent of its wetlands, and 75 per cent of its forest cover. JILL GALLOWAY talked to He Tini Awa trustees about how they are helping to change the balance a bit.

The project we visit is an eight-hectare wetland near Pohangina village.

It is owned by Gordon and Anne Pilone and is home to dabchicks, mallards and paradise ducks – and lots of pukeko. . .

 Raising chooks and cash –  Terry Tacon:

 New Zealander bidding to double the size of his Australian-based broiler chicken business was back in familiar territory last week.

This interview with Max Bryant, executive director of ProTen, was conducted in what was his former office in the Agribusiness Centre in Weld St, Feilding, these days occupied by NZX Agri editorial manager Tony Leggett.

Bryant was a sheep and beef farmer on a 120ha property at Halcombe when in 1982 he “virtually went broke” from a failed kiwifruit venture in which he had invested. . .

Merino farmers given chance – Gerald Piddock:

Merino growers have a watershed opportunity to take ownership of their marketing business from the sale of PGG Wrightson’s 50 per cent shareholding of New Zealand Merino (NZM) to Merino Grower Investments Limited (MGIL), NZM director Ross Ivey says.

The sale of the shareholding valued at $7.625 million, is subject to approval by MGIL’s 630 grower shareholders who own 50 per cent of NZM.

Mr Ivey, who farms merinos at Glentanner Station near Aoraki Mt Cook, said he would be very surprised if MGIL’s shareholders rejected the proposal. . .

More to bees than honey – Gerald Piddock:

The New Zealand bee industry is in good heart and in good health, but there are challenges ahead, according to an industry representative.

Although varroa was widespread throughout the country, diseases such as European foulbrood, small hive beetle and Israel acute paralysis virus were present in Australia, but have not yet been found in New Zealand, National Beekeepers Association (NBA) joint chief executive Daniel Paul said.

“That’s one of the reasons why we don’t want Australian honey imports, because they have the potential to bring in threats that could potentially undermine the health of the industry.” . . .

 


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