Rural round-up

June 2, 2018

The farm action group that ‘crunches into life’ – Tony Benny:

A group of North Otago farmers are working together to find ways to increase profitability, taking advantage of the support offered by the Red Meat Profit Partnership’s Action Network initiative. Tony Benny reports. 

Ross and Jo Hay and their friends Gareth and Sarah Isbister got a taste for working with experts and getting access to the latest research and information when they joined  the Red Meat Profit Partnership’s pilot farm programme. They were part of RMPP partner Silver Fern Farms’ red meat eating quality project, looking for ways to consistently produce the most succulent, best tasting, and most valuable lamb.

For about a year they talked about how valuable it would be to form a farmers’ group that “really crunched into life”, that drilled down into financials and objectively analysed their respective businesses. When they went to an RMPP workshop in Christchurch, they found what they were looking for.

“We heard Richmond Beetham from Baker Ag talking about the business groups they have running in the Wairarapa and we were like, ‘That’s what we want to do’,” recalls Jo Hay. . . 

Winners inspired by industry solidarity – Pam Tipa:

The winners of the 2018 NZ Dairy Industry Awards, Dan and Gina Duncan, are overwhelmingly positive about the industry.

The former registered valuers won the ultimate award – 2018 NZ Share Farmers of the Year.

They say the way dairy farmers interact with each other is fantastic. 

“Look at the discussion groups and how willing people are to share what they are doing,” Dan told Dairy News. . . 

Synlait, Westland spruik higher milk payments for farmers in upcoming season – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – South Island dairy processors Synlait Milk and Westland Milk Products have raised their forecast milk payment levels to their farmer suppliers for the upcoming season, following a similar move last month by larger rival Fonterra Cooperative Group.

Rakaia-based Synlait raised its forecast milk price for the 2017/18 season which officially ended yesterday to $6.65 per kilogram of milk solids, and said the average premium payment of 13 cents would lift the total payout to $6.78/kgMS. It announced an opening price forecast for 2018/19 of $7/kgMS, based on milk fat prices remaining firm throughout the season.

Dairy Manager of the Year great with people :

The 2018 Dairy Manager of the Year winner Gerard Boerjan aims for excellence in everything he does.

“He has great experience as a manger of people and a great passion for working with people in a large team environment,” dairy manager head judge Mary Craw says.

“He takes a systems approach to the way he manages the farm and has good systems in place to ensure nothing gets through the gaps. . .

Food technology and money speeding up change: Protein Conference

An upcoming conference in Auckland on alternative proteins offering consumers new food choices will include a debate on whether new plant-based proteins will disrupt traditional meat producers’ markets or simply bring more cheaper food choices to the masses.

Last week in Britain, ahead of expectations, Tesco and Dutch-based plant food company Vivera jointly announced the immediate stocking of 100% plant-based steaks on supermarket shelves there. . .

Agriculture opens doors for youth :

Kalu, in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia, is home to 28-year-old Yimam Ali.

However, many young people from this region of Ethiopia move to the Middle East looking for work and a better life. The amount of job opportunities in the country has not matched its growth. 71 percent of Ethiopia’s population is under the age of 30 and many of them lack opportunities to make a decent living.

Yimam decided to go to Saudi Arabia where his sister was living.

His journey, to what was meant to be a better life, was not an easy one: . .

Pioneering New Zealand avocado orchard placed up for sale by its international owner:

One of the first large-scale commercial avocado orchards to be planted in New Zealand – as part of a multi-national growing consortium – has been placed on the market for sale.

The 29 hectare property at Awanui just north of Kaitaia was originally established by Californian-based owners in 1990. It was planted with Hass on Zutano and Duke 7 avocado varieties grown on some 20 hectares of plantation land. . .

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Dairy workers have it easy?

September 15, 2011

Tesco has a website to promote the nutritional benefits of milk.

It includes a page introducing farmer Jo who it turns out isn’t a fulltime farmer:

Unlike Harry, who was herding cows before he could walk, I never thought I would end up back here. I studied History in Birmingham and lived there and then in London. But the chance came to develop different areas of the farm which are not strictly cow/crop related and I jumped at it. I now run the mountain boarding centre (like snow boarding with pneumatic wheels – loads of fun!) but I still work around the farm.

One of her duties is milking when a herdsman is off and she says:

Their job is a real lifestyle choice. They start at 4am to prepare for 5am milking, then go home and sleep before milking is done again at 5pm.

I’d be surprised if that’s how it is for most dairy farm workers in Britain, it’s certainly not here.

They get up early to do the morning milking. Whoever is rostered to get the herd in will start about 4.30am, the others at 5:00. After milking and washing the shed they go home for breakfast then back to work feeding out, shifting breaks, attending to animal health, doing repairs and maintenance . . .  They go home for lunch and sometimes have time for a short nap and then it’s back for afternoon milking which usually starts with getting the cows in at about 2.30. When milking’s finished they clean the shed before going home for dinner.

Extra staff are usually employed to feed calves but there are other duties around calving then it’s not long before mating which also requires more work. They might also be required to irrigate. Managers and share milkers  have administration to do too.

Dairy workers here are well paid, but the good ones earn every cent. It’s usually only on their days off that they’d have the luxury of sleeping between milkings unless they are employed only for milking and not full time.

Hat Tip: Business Blog

Apropos of websites promoting milk, DairyNZ has appointed Rosie as Cowbassador, the face of New Zealand’s 4.4 million dairy cows  face of New Zealand’s 4.4 million dairy cows. Followers have the chance to win an iPad.


Food miles fallacy foiled by facts

February 25, 2009

The food miles campaign is thought to be one reason for a 15% fall in New Zealand lamb sales in Britain.

For four years now some UK shops, like Tesco, have been promoting the food miles concept, meaning the closer to home something is produced the more sustainable it is. Now, the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research says it can prove that theory wrong. 

“Our cattle are grazed on grass rather than grain, and they’re housed outside most of the year rather than being in heated sheds,” says John Ballingall, “so the energy used in producing New Zealand food is often lower than the UK.”

In fact, the research shows that an average trip by car to the supermarket in Britain, 6.4km, to buy the weekly groceries uses the same amount of energy as shipping that food 8500km.

That’s a very impressive statistic but ecopolice don’t always let the facts get in the way of their religion and the green message is even infecting British hospitals which are being encouraged to  serve less meat and cheese  in a misguided attempt to be kinder on the environment.

Hospitals should serve meals which meet the dietry and health needs of the patients at the lowest cost and base their policies on facts not politics.

Less meat and cheese may be better for the health of some patients but not necessarily all and buying local isn’t necessarily better for the environment.

Food transported 100  miles by 10 trucks may have more impact on the environment than having it moved 1000 miles by one truck and as the NZIER figures above show going thousands of kilometres by ship is better than a few by car.

Besides, the distance food travels is only one factor in an assessment of it’s environmental footprint. A Lincoln University study showed New Zealand dairying produced less greenhouse gas than British dairying, even when the shipping was taken into account.

Given how short most hospital stays are these days patients are probably not in danger from the new prescription for their diets, but the implications of the other “green” initiative of greater sterilisation and reuse of equipment could be very serious if it increased the risk of infection.

However, the food miles debate might be academic because sustainability tends to be the concern of those wealthy enough to choose and as the recession bites households and hospitals alike are more likely to be more concerned about how much food costs than how far it travels.

Hat Tip: No Minister


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